One of These Days...

I had intended to write about last week's interview with Benchmade Knives about the internet blowup which followed the exposure of that company cutting up guns for the Oregon City, OR, police department, and Benchmade's political contributions to only Democrat politicians. The interview was ... well, instructive for any company which finds itself in this kind of mess. You can hear the interview here.

My plans for this column changed last night when I got the surprising news that an old friend -- my first hunting buddy aside from my father -- has an inoperable brain tumor. The doctors are doing what they can, but we know where this is headed. 

It was a reminder of an important lesson we all know but which most of us tend to "forget."

I met David in the fifth grade, and we immediately connected. He lived down the street from me, he hunted, he fished, and we were buddies until we left high school. I remember the story from when he was in the fourth grade, and came back from Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday. The students were telling about what they did over the vacation, and David started talking about hunting. He had shot an owl. I'm not sure if they were protected at that time, to be honest. A half-century ago it was pretty common for people to shoot owls, thinking they were a negative factor on the small game populations. Anyway, the teacher took him to task for lying. Surely this little kid didn't shoot an owl. Sure enough, the next day David's dad went up to school to set the record straight. 

We rode our bicycles around while we carried our shotguns. It was only a mile or so out of town to where we hunted doves. He was a Browning man. A Sweet 16, to be exact. David loved that hump-back gun, and he could shoot it. I, on the other hand, carried a hand-me-down Winchester Model 12, in 20 gauge, which was my Mother's. She had cut the stock down to fit her five-foot nothing height, so it worked great for an 11-year old.  

I lived on a lake, and in the summers we fished or skied every day. We would mow lawns in the morning to get money for the gasoline we would burn in the afternoons. Oh, Lord, we had fun. A typical adventure was shooting nutria at night, with bows, from a leaky boat we had to beach regularly so we could turn it over to empty out the water.

Many years ago I asked my father if he had any regrets. Understand that Grits Gresham packed more into a life than most could do in three. He hunted or shot on six continents, dined with royalty, played golf, hunted and fished with sports and movie stars, and was recognized everywhere he went, all over the world. Imagine my surprise when he answered my question by saying, "I don't regret any of the things I've done. I do, however, regret a number of things I didn't do." 

When we lose a friend, it's a tap on the shoulder to remind us that no one gets off this planet alive (so far). A timer runs for each of us, but we aren't privileged to know how much is left on that clock. We know that, but we push that thought aside.

"One of these days" has always hit me as a somewhat sad phrase. One of these days I'm going to ... own a really nice gun ... go on an Alaska hunt ... learn to fly ... go to a real shooting school, or whatever. We can't do everything, but I'm thinking that we would all benefit by paying more attention to that tap on the shoulder. It's much more clear when you are older, but you can take advantage of the opportunities more easily when you are younger. Think hunting sheep, for instance. 

Honestly, I'm not really bothered by this. I have, to the extent that finances would allow, done a lot of things. Never one who embraced delayed gratification, I've hunted, fished, learned to SCUBA dive, became a pilot, was (at one time) a pretty good rock drummer, sank a boat and nearly died in Alaska, and many more. A year ago I decided to learn to play the guitar, so I bought one and dived in. I'm certainly never going to be good at it, but I'm having fun.

What's this all about? Simply a reminder to pay attention to those taps on the shoulder. If you have a "one of these days" wish, get to working on it today. No one is going to invent a longer day. It's up to you to make the most of the time you have.

I have always liked the saying that life is not a dress rehearsal. 

Thanks for allowing me to take this personal journey. 

Now, about that bucket list of "one of these days" things you have in your head ...

-- Tom

Tom Gresham
Author, outdoorsman, gun rights activist, and firearms enthusiast for more than five decades, Tom Gresham hosts Tom Gresham's Gun Talk, the first nationally-syndicated radio show about guns and the shooting sports, and is also the producer and co-host of the Guns & Gear, GunVenture and First Person Defender television series.

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