“Just do it.” That is America – in a phrase. Why are so many Americans intuitively conservative? Why do they work not whine, harvest not harp, split wood not hairs? Why do they want less government, more freedom, no new taxes, and no senseless hand-outs? Why do they want to be left alone, earn their keep, and have their dollar hold its value? Because they are self-starters, self-reliant, and sometimes defiant. They do not need anyone to tell them who they are, they know.
Sometimes, harkening back to old habits, I search for that self-reliance in myself. Sure it is there, despite the deluge of modern nonsense. I pound nails, seal boards, stack wood, and read Thoreau.
We cannot forget the America of our youth. Conservatives never do. They are grateful for it – the undying example of WWII vets, life without cellphones, and contentment in raking and shoveling.
They know good things take time, they always have. They know the nation was built on stick-to-it-ness, taking risks, helping a neighbor, working with gratitude – just for the chance to work.
They know progress is incremental, comes from The People, not utopian, government-funded programs, not pie-in-the-sky schemes to compensate voters for every bump, not a grand plan that transforms human nature, forgives all debts, cancels history, or turns government into God. That is Marxism, and it fails.
What conservatives appreciate is accomplishment in simple tasks, knowing some days will not be easy, but there is satisfaction in doing things for yourself. This was one…
The sun was setting – I was behind. In Maine, the water is getting cold, and little boats filled with it. Even worse, the lake was chilling and more rain coming. With my flashlight in hand, I went to get the boat in.
To myself, I said, “This is going to be a job.” Filled to the gunwale, water lipped the transom. I started bailing. With a plastic bottle, I scooped and dumped, until a child’s pool became a boat again.
Drained, I untied it from a tree, threw in the rope, pushed out, put down the engine. All this should have been done earlier, I knew. Flashlight under my chin now, I goosed the primer. Ten pulls, 20, 30, silence – now drifting down the lake. “Just do it,” I thought.
Moon rising, boat ramp somewhere in darkness, I began paddling. Half an hour later, my bow swished up on sand. I pulled the boat up, set off through the woods for car and trailer. At the car, a new discovery – no hitch. Forgot to put it on. I pawed under jumpers, no luck. “No worries, good things take time.”
Back at the garage, I dug up a second hitch and hammered the pin out. “Good things take time.” Back at the boat, now with the trailer, I backed down the ramp – tricky by day, trickier at night. The boat needed centering on rubber rollers, so I waded into the dark cold, flashlight still under my chin.
Once centered, I tried a shortcut. Rather than working the boat onto the trailer in the water, I would just turn the winch hard, and lift it out – with rope. The rope breaks, enough said.
I backed further into the water, saying “enjoy this.” The boat floated free. A conversation ensued between me and the boat, convincing the boat to come back and rejoin the trailer.
Securing the boat with a rope was next. Rope left without knots – was full of them. I needed a knife, found one, cut the knots, secured the boat, realized … I had misplaced the car keys.
“Be calm,” I thought. Retracing my steps, I found them, restarted the car, got home, cleaned out leaves and acorns, and covered the boat with a tarp – ready for the rain, job done.
Pulling a boat late season, night, cold – was oddly fun. Self-reliance is like that. It lifts you, affirms the possible, and lets you do it. Across the nation, people do countless tasks, uncomplaining. They prepare, care, accomplish, often wordlessly – happy for the chance to get things done.
Self-reliance, not worrying too much, and rallying as required – it’s what we do, us conservatives. Doing things, enjoying hard work, the harvest, challenges, slips, and recoveries. It lets us sleep easily.
In a nutshell, normal people getting normal things done is what America is about and was built on. It is not about government, it is not complicated. It involves self-staring, follow-through, and is gratifying. We are at our best, on any given day, when we appreciate this is freedom’s gift.
Some will think I make much of little and they are right, of course. That job was just an evening’s task, but what joy it was, getting it done. No government told me what to do, just life. We thrive when we see and take on challenges, are self-sufficient, self-reliant, mildly defiant, and never compliant. That is what makes us conservatives. No excuses, just glad for our chances. “Just do it.” That is America – in a phrase. May it always be so.
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