It is well with my soul

Randy Butler Contributing columnist

Randy Butler Contributing columnist

It seems like not that long ago when Earl Hughes hired me as a “bag boy” at Great Scot in Hillsboro. I had to wear a dress shirt with a tie, and dress pants. Jeans were not allowed. The job consisted of bagging the groceries after they were “rang up.” Scanners were not even a thought in 1977. The cashier had to enter prices for each item. We then loaded the groceries into two wheeled carts and loaded them in their car. Mopping, cleaning and sorting pop bottles were among my other duties.

Pop was sold in glass bottles. When the bottle was empty, it could be returned to the store for cash or credit. All pop brands had to be sorted and put together. The delivery driver would pick up the empty sorted bottles in wooden crates. That’s another long ago task. The job description is closely related to the full-service station, which also doesn’t exist anymore.

I still lived at home, the only expense I had was my car and all was well. I don’t ever remember not having enough money to do what I wanted to do. All this happened making $3.75 per hour and working 20-25 hours a week. My car insurance was $224.60 every six months, and my car payment was $61.03. After that and gas, the rest was mine to spend as I saw fit. Most was spent on new gadgets and gizmos that would make my car look better and run faster. That was what was important to me at the time.

Recently, as I was sitting at the light in the center of Hillsboro, cruising came to mind. I remember how much fun that was. To explain it, it sounds like nonsense. Most nights consisted of cruising, but summer nights brought out the most cruisers. Young people would come from miles away just to cruise the block. It could be minus 20 degrees and all the windows were down just so you would not miss anything. Bumper to bumper traffic for the entire block in both directions. You would go one way and circle a couple times, then turn around and do the same again. I am sure it did get out of hand at times, but we had a blast. There were also those moments when there would be the drag race. There were 2.25-mile stretches we used. Both were out SR 138 toward Danville, and I am guessing two to three miles apart. I have no idea why we needed two, but we had them. Those were fun times.

Why is it that we always look back on our past and decide that’s when our life was good — the good ’ole days. It was less stressful, we had less, but seemed to be happier. Back in the day we thought we were maybe overweight, not good-looking, or whatever bad thing we used to think of ourselves. But when we look at old pictures, it seems like we were wrong. We did look OK after all and didn’t even know it. We have all heard the joke that we wish we were as fat now as we used to think we were.

I must ask myself if there is a lesson for us all here. Are we that shallow and selfish to believe that what we had in the past or what we will have in the future, is better than what we have right now? It gets said every day somewhere how short life is. We can’t live in the past or in the future. Life is happening today. Should we all get better at being content with what we have instead of focusing on what we used to have or what we want in the future?

This is not to say we shouldn’t all have goals for our lives. We should. I believe we should always strive to be better at everything we do. I am talking about what we are blessed with today.

Even with all the whacked-out things we all must endure in our society there is still so much good in our lives. Why can’t we focus on that instead of the things that aren’t perfect, or maybe the things we don’t like?

The old hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul” was written in the late 1800s by Horatio Spafford. He was a very well-to-do Chicago attorney. Through unfortunate events he lost almost all he owned and all his children. The events inspired the words to the famous song. To me, we all should aspire to live these words:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Randy Butler is a lifelong resident of Highland County and a licensed real estate agent for Classic Real Estate in Hillsboro.

Randy Butler Contributing columnist Butler Contributing columnist