I know that the Mike Judge’s cartoon, “King of the Hill” is ridiculous in innumerable ways, but it is also extremely accurate in its portrayal of the culture in which I grew up. One element of this culture that I have come to recognize as quite remarkable and wonderful is the redneck rhythm.
Since roaming far and wide from my boisterous cousins back home I have spent much time in search of a healthy rhythm of life. You know, a regular and constant way of living that is sustainable at its core — both productive and inspiring while being restful and reflective at the same time.
Rednecks have long learned this delicate and artful balance. A good example would be the Saturday afternoon games of beer volleyball that always followed a hard week’s work; or a Friday night private beer and rodeo at the half-sized arena at our neighbors; or even the late Tuesday night beer and stargazing that followed a long day of dusty labor. With all of these it was always work and responsibilities first and then relaxation and beer second. And it was in this way that I learned a healthy rhythm in life.
The crafty redneck has even become master of occasionally mixing the two — rest and labor. Thus, the love affair with the riding mower. While one rides the mower one is free of hassle, anxiety and care. Impossible for the guilt of laziness to invade and immune from the aggravating nag of the “to do list”, the riding mower is equivalent to the fortress of solitude. When all other healthy rhythms come crashing down, there is always the John Deere or the Kubota for regaining perspective.
The problem for me was that I had hay-fever, and so it was my brother’s job to ride the mower and mine to fix it every time it broke, which my brother was sure to make every time he rode it. Thanks. Grease and busted knuckles just didn’t provide the same solace.
Now that I live in Salt Lake City, how do I regain the lost afternoon-beer-in-the-ally rhythm? or the 2:00pm thunder-boomer break for watermelon and ice tea? I have a hard time even defining my duties anymore. How can I know when I am done with them? How can I know when there is time to lie down in the garden or on the porch and pull the brim of my hat down over my eyes? All I know is that I need a little shot of that redneck rhythm, and a beer, maybe a Lone Star.