THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
When I was a kid I sometimes had nights when I couldn’t fall asleep. Most of the time it was because the day had been too exciting and my body was too revved up to relax. Other times tomorrow just plain seemed too frightening.
Over the years, I discovered that a good way to make myself relax was for me to think about something wonderful.
Sometimes I’d make up stories and tell them to myself as I lay in bed. Other times I’d fantasize about things I wanted to have someday.
I still do this on difficult nights, but as I’ve gotten older, the stories and fantasies have changed.
Take my Dream Team of Acquisitions, for example.
As a four-year-old I wanted a puppet version of Howdy Doody, the marionette hero of my favorite TV show. With that at my side I’d be a hero as well.
As a fourteen-year-old I wanted a new bicycle. A Raleigh racer, top of the line so I could ride like the wind and go places I’d never been before, in style.
By the time I was a twenty-four-year-old I wanted a Porsche and the showbiz career that would make owning it possible. I worked hard and achieved both those desires, just as I’d managed to acquire Howdy and the racing bike years before.
At thirty-four when I lay in bed unable to sleep my mind turned toward even fancier fare: A red Ferrari, a stable of thoroughbreds, that kind of thing. I struck out, but in the bedtime fantasy game real world failure—and success—don’t count, and my appetites continued to increase.
By the time I was forty-four I was fantasizing about having a private jet and a crew of lovely flight attendants to go with it. A villa in the South of France and a household of lovely French maids. A TV production empire that would’ve rivaled present-day Viacom and a studio full of lovely assistants. (Who cared if the assistants were French? Not me.)
I didn’t get any of those things either. But in spite of (or maybe because of) the futility of my ambitions I did get a lot of sleep.
These days my desires are less exotic. I realized this the other day when I was over at Doug the Dog Breeder’s, helping him install a new wooden floor. (Assuming, of course, that the definition of “helping” is saying, “Man, this place is really looking great,” while sitting and sipping sweet tea.)
“Know what I want?” Doug said.
“This little mallet over here?” I said.
“I want a tractor,” Doug said. “A John Deere. I saw a brand new green and yellow backhoe on Highway 14 yesterday and spent all last night imagining what it’d be like if that was mine.”
“Really? All night?”
“Well, until I fell asleep filling out the paperwork for the bank loan in my mind.”
“I know what you mean,” I said more or less automatically.
And then I stopped. realizing that in fact I knew exactly what he meant. Not because I used to think about what it would be like to have my own million dollar this or billion dollar that, but because the most recent thing I’d thought about having for myself was a John Deere tractor of my own.
Not a backhoe. That was too rich for my blood. A little 990, the kind you can get for $135 a month through the John Deere web site. A web site I go to at least once a week so I can replenish the fuel for my latest dream.
I told Doug that he and I were counting the same sheep except he was thinking bigger than I was, and he burst into laughter. “Some folks might say you’re lowering your sights,” he said. “But I know better than that.”
“What do you mean?”
“You can’t help but be ambitious. You’re not wanting smaller, just different. This 990 is only the beginning. By next month you’ll be working out how to take over Tyson Farms.”
Once upon a time Doug would’ve been right. But here, now, I don’t ache in the slightest for my own big-time agribusiness or world dominance of any kind. I really just want my own John Deere.
Not the little 990 though. Or the backhoe.
I want the 9620T. The bad boy that goes loaded for $300,000 plus.
If stewing on that doesn’t get me through the night, nothing will.