I’m blessed with really cool neighbors. Every one of them, perfect neighbors. We live kinda out, not in the country, but not neighborhood living either. None of us hover around the other, and we are all very respectful of each others’ personal space, but each of them are only a phone call away. I could have any of them help me with car trouble, cook me a meal, or drop my kids at school if need be. Fortunately, we don’t need these favors often, but its nice to know that if the situation arose, I would not be alone. It is also nice to have a friendly face to wave to while dragging the trash to the street or checking the mail. When you live a pseudo-country lifestyle, you seem to run into some unique problems, and it helps to have unique neighbors, with unique solutions. I have been afforded the opportunity to winch a neighbors donkey named Chester out of waist high mud, trench a grave for numerous animals, watch pigs break loose and rut a property (bacon and an argument was the end result) and received some very courteous texts from neighbors who have hit various wild game along our shared driveway. I would say that there is never a dull moment, but that would not be true at all. There are a lots of dull moments and that is why I like it out here.

One of my neighbors in particular inspired me to write this blog today. She inspires me on lots of days, and probably has no idea that she does. I will tell you why. My neighbor is named Bobbie and she is a piece of work. Bobbi is a very kind-spirited, mature hippie type who looks to be in her late forties, early fifties. She likes to grow plants and cook with the herbs. She spent years working at Fed Ex, tending to her plants, goats, and donkey named Chester. She enjoyed her Miller Genuine Draft and always seemed to be at peace with the world (unless you ruffle her feathers. If you ruffle her feathers, she will fu*k you up.) Anyways, a few years back she had some medical problems that resulted in a heart transplant. A HEART TRANSPLANT! Wow, what a blow that must have been. She was going through her life altering event about the same time that I was going through my own life crisis, so I did not get the opportunity to be as helpful as I think that I should have, but maybe I will get another chance. Bobbie went through the rigorous procedure and seemingly made ALL of the life changes that are necessary when going through this procedure. She had to go on the straight and narrow, and probably change just about all of her daily rituals. She did this seemingly very gracefully and with ease, but I know that there is nothing like a heart transplant that is easy. I would see her on occasion, either at the mailbox, or run into her at the store. Each time I saw her, she appeared happier and healthier. It was clear that the recovery period would be significant and the steroids had given her an added puffiness in her face, but she is a beautiful lady and she wore it well. She had long flowing black, silver, and grey hair, and always wore a smile whenever I saw her. I thought about her often, but never took time to check on her or stop by to see her.

About 6 months ago, maybe more, I was at The Fresh Market with Pedro buying lunch. I saw Bobbie there, and I was floored. She looked great! She was clearly following the advice of her doctors, eating clean, taking her meds, and fighting the good fight. Her energy was palpable. She just looked so alive and radiant. The puffiness had left her face, and she looked happier and healthier than she had before her transplant. Honestly, I just wanted to touch her. She looked almost beaming. I don’t have to know somebody well to hug them, but I also did not want to come across as a weirdo or squeeze the life out of her, so I did not grab her or try to scratch her to see if light would come bursting out of her pores. I just left it at that. Pedro and I discussed how good she looked, and what an interesting event it must be to live through a heart transplant (Bobbie, if you’re reading this, I’m gonna try to sucker you into cooking dinner for Amanda and I, so I can bombard you with questions about your experience. Consider yourself warned.)

Fast forward a few months, I am driving out of my gravel driveway, to go where I cannot recall. I see one of my neighbors, Jeannie, who is waiting to pick up her grand-kids as the bus will soon be dropping them off. Jeannie is talking to someone I barely recognize. It is a middle aged lady with short, black and silver hair. It is Bobbie and she has cut all of her hair off…and it looks dynamite! I stop the truck momentarily to say hello to both Jeannie and Bobbie. I said, “Bobbie, your hair looks awesome! You look fantastic.” Jeannie wholeheartedly agrees. Her response is why I have been blabbering on for the last thousand words. What she said has impacted me, probably daily, ever since I saw her in my driveway with her freshly cut hair. She said this:

“Thank you. I will tell you what, I just felt like I had to flip that switch. Sometimes, you just gotta flip that switch.”

Wow. That made the hairs on my arms and neck stand up at attention. Fu*kin-A. Amen. Heard Dat. Or any combination of the three, were the only proper responses to the statement. I think about that most every single day. I think about what is working in my life, and I think about what is not. I inventory what I can do differently, better, more or less. I reflect on the positives and what I can do to avoid the negatives, but most importantly, the very most important question I can ask myself is this, “Is there a switch? Would it be more fun if I flipped it?”. The question is not if other people will like it, or if it will be embarrassing. I take into consideration other people’s feelings and the overall safety of myself and others, but for the most part, it’s a pretty general question. It appears that life presents a series of switches that I can choose to let remain a mystery as to what circuits they energize, or I can take a risk and see what lights up. Bobbie’s haircut was a risk. If people didn’t like the haircut, then Bobbie would be stuck with the hair for months until it grew back, but something tells me Bobbie didn’t give a fu*k. When you live through a heart transplant, I would imagine that you don’t spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about what the hell people think about your haircut. I like to think that when you survive a heart transplant that you live life looking for switches to flip and enjoy the electricity that each switch produces. I like to think that every decision that does not pose a health risk is a “go for it”, all the time. I like to believe that when you get a second lease on life that you are willing to lead a more fulfilled life the second time around. I will tell you what else I would like to believe. I would like to believe that it will not take a heart transplant or any other life event before I will make my decision to go through life enjoying passing room to room and flipping every switch on the wall. I want to do things, just to see what happens. I want to try new things, just to see what they feel like. I want to experience new things, if only for experience’s sake. I want to kick down doors, flip all the switches, every fu*kin one of them, and just see what happens. I hope you have fun today. I hope you enjoy your heart that is healthy and beating fine. I hope you appreciate your health and all the good that has been given to you, and I hope that if you are going through darkness that you feel around. There is a switch in that room, somewhere on that wall, and when you find it, flip it. Flip all of them.

Peace, love, and all things Beef related,