My dirty driveway, a turbo nozzle and a few memories

If you haven’t experienced the pure joy of pressure washing your driveway with a rotary turbo nozzle, you’re really missing out. A zero degree jet of water spun at several thousand rotations per minute will blow away your cares along with all that dirt and grime. Against the hum of the Honda engine, I had a couple of hours alone with my thoughts.

While the water was flowing, I listened to almost all of Chris Stapleton’s songs. Words can’t adequately explain the sublime experience of listening to “Fire Away” while blasting a water cannon at 3,100 pounds per square inch. At least I had a reasonable explanation for my desire to drink bourbon, raise hell, pray and apologize in no particular order.

At the top of the driveway, some of the concrete was broken up. Cleaning it required quite a bit of touch. If I let the pressure washer rip, I’d tear up the driveway. If I didn’t use enough force, it wouldn’t come clean. It’s not all that different from how many of our conversations seem to be going these days. We’ve lost touch. Everything seems like it’s all or nothing. Whether it’s immigration, federal spending, technology or television, life is complicated. That’s the truth. It doesn’t sit well with most of us who like the idea of the good guys versus the bad guys. We prefer clean lines where one side is wrong and the other is right. Most things worth arguing over are about as straightforward as the winding cracks in my driveway.

About halfway down, I ran out of gas. I took a look at the clean concrete behind me and the dark mess that remained ahead. I paused for a minute recalling the odd path I’ve taken that led me to the middle of that very driveway. I thought back to the grass between my toes as we caught fireflies at twilight. The cold silence at home after my brother died. That crazy feeling of watching my bride walk down the aisle. Being scared to death when I lost my job with a child on the way. The overwhelming sensation of being completely out of my depth as I held each of my sons for the first time. Each was just a flash, but they filled a lifetime.

It all seems to fit together when I look back, but it sure didn’t at each moment in time. It’s easier to remember the good days and try to forget the tough ones. But doing so leaves out an important part of who we are. It makes about as much sense as only cleaning part of the driveway. Folks going through rough patches need to see my failures, pain and course corrections every bit as much as my personal highlight reel.

The engine roared back to life with a little more gas. After a few hours, the battery on my phone died, so the music was gone. My hands were sore, and I was about as wet, cold and dirty as I’d been in a while. None of that mattered when I finished. The driveway was clean. I’d worked for most of the day, but it seemed like minutes.

Life happens that fast. It’s ironic that we need to slow down for a moment to really appreciate it. We need to remember the people we’ve lost, the lessons we’ve learned and those crazy turns along the way. If you’re Chris Stapleton, that experience makes for a good country song. For me, it’s a few memories, a clean driveway and a column.

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