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Burlington Chocolate Fest

Stumbling along to another new year

January 12, 2011 | 07:56 AM
I took an expensive walk the other day.

I decided to leave my car at work and walk the two miles to my apartment. The walk back the next morning was chilly but exhilarating. I noticed other walkers and was happy I wasn't the only one crazy enough to be out on a winter morning.

But as I approached the Regional News, I noticed something was missing. My car.

My first hope was that it had been stolen. (I really want a new car.)

But soon enough another scenario became obvious — my long suffering vehicle had been towed. I learned it would be $153 for towing ("In cash," the tower said, "I don't have change"). After borrowing the money from a co-worker and handing it to my car's captor, I noticed that I'd also received a $25 ticket. An expensive walk indeed.

But at the same time I recalled that a friend of mine has cancer. Another friend is getting divorced. A third, according to her Christmas card, is getting Alzheimer's. "I'm forgetting names," she said, "and have to keep my glasses on a chain around my neck so I don't lose them." I seem to remember a time, not so long ago, when we were both young.

The man at the towing place had a cozy fire going in his stove. He let his dogs out from a corner room and they romped in the snow, apparently oblivious to my plight and the fact that their master just made $153.

When I got in the car an old CD was playing one of my favorite songs. The six-pack I'd bought the night before was still in the front seat — unopened, a gift for the night to come. I decided to spend the last of my walking-around money at McDonald's and the breakfast sandwich tasted better than ever.

Then I grabbed the USA Today and noticed that the two leading rushers in the NFL this year were an undrafted free agent and a seventh-round draft choice. Miracles still occur, even in the NFL. I noticed, too, a story about the wife of the former governor of Illinois dying of cancer and a photo of Sarah Palin whining about one thing or another.

A mixed bag of news that day, as it is every day.

A long walk with an expensive payoff.

But also a recollection of how lucky I have it and how fleeting that luck can be.

I still had more than enough money for Christmas, and a New Year with new beginnings, new tickets perhaps, shortfalls and windfalls, luck of all kinds, and a sense that life just keeps on rolling, until it doesn't anymore.

Sometimes a few bucks lost, a wee bit of bad luck, can be like a good slap in the face. An expensive walk can be a journey to awareness. A forced counting of blessings.

Happy New Year from all of us at The Regional News.

May your awakenings next year be inexpensive, and your lessons well learned.

I'll see you on the road, stumbling along with everyone else.

Halverson is the general manager of the Regional News.

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