Friday, February 12, 2010

Life is a Rodeo Parade

There is a town close to where I live that has an annual rodeo parade. The rodeo parade includes a variety of quaint floats, antique cars, homemade costumes, and banners. Local businesses advertise their services and philanthropic organizations promote their causes. The fire truck, with sirens blasting, is always included. One year even the garbage truck proudly drove in the parade. But perhaps the predominant attraction is all the different kinds of livestock on display; various types of horses, alpacas, and llamas.  In this little town, the parade route goes down main street where spectators scramble for candy that is thrown into the “crowd” (there were more folks in the parade than in the crowd!). There’s plenty of whooping and hollering along the way. It is quite the excitement.

One year, as a member of one of the philanthropic organizations, I marched in the parade. Our permit number was ninety-two out of ninety-four, which meant that we were close to the end of the parade. The honor of bringing up the rear certainly added a dimension to my parade experience that was unexpected. All along the way, we were dodging piles of manure in different stages of being flattened by various tires. The pungent horse urine was bad enough but I think it was the llamas that smelled the worst in the summer heat. It was so bad that the organizers of the event took no time cleaning up the mess. The group that followed number ninety-four was the clean-up crew with a water truck and hoses and various kinds of shovels, brooms and scrubbers. I should have known when I saw them that my light weight sneakers would not be up to the task of this parade. Heavy boots were in order. I learned a valuable lesson that day: never march at the end of a rodeo parade!

But I suppose life is like a rodeo parade sometimes. If we end up at the back of the line, we need heavy boots to slog through all the crap. If we march close the beginning, we leave a mess for others to deal with. If we are somewhere in the middle, we get a mixed experience. We all find ourselves at different places in the parade at different times in our lives. But perhaps the real place of honor is at the rear of the procession. It is the clean-up crew that provides the most lowly and valuable service. Now that’s the place to be.

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