Missouri Life columnist Ron Marr fills us in on what made him happy back in 2007. As you can imagine one of those things are his dogs which is still the case today. As his birthday approaches, find out what else Ron was waxing philosophical about 16 years ago.

Cogitation for Your Consideration

By Ron Marr

IT’S NO GREAT SECRET that I am both blessed and cursed with a short attention span, tripping over my own boredom threshold several times a day. I believe that achieving a consistently clear focus is the dominion of astronomers, photographers, and satellite TV repairmen. As has been proven by nearly forty-eight years of existence, my interest rate in most topics is analogous to that paid by most checking accounts. If you’re lucky you might get 1 percent, but please trust that, over time, the figure is bound to go down.

The blessing of this affliction is that I’m often studying something new, offbeat, or strange. The curse is that the new, offbeat, and strange don’t stay that way for long, at which point I hear wild geese and move on. The result of this personality quirk is a pea brain chock-full of odd facts, trivia, and obscure minutiae. You’ll find factoids ranging from the Akkadian Empire (it flourished between the twenty-fourth and twenty-second centuries BC in what is present-day Iraq) to the properties of zebrawood (it smells awful and breaks if you look at it funny). In between I can tell you a little (but very little) about Butte, Montana; Delta-style guitar; Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle; the Popeil Pocket Fisherman; Quantrill’s Raiders; woodworking; Xerxes the Great; and a plethora of equally boring tidbits spanning the alphabet.

No … I don’t have ADD, ADHD, or even HDTV. What I do have is the knowledge that I was never meant to be a specialist. I thrive on being a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. I’ve never desired great expertise in anything, never felt infused with burning ambitions. I’ve lived hither and yon, but never cared to travel for travel’s sake. I’ve always managed to pay the bills via honest self-employment (except for a brief foray into cubicle world when I was down to my last buck) and gladly swap less cash for more freedom. Quite simply, I have one goal in life. That is to be as happy as is humanly possible.

I suppose I’m pondering this nonsense because my birthday is approaching, which traditionally makes me philosophical. I’ve always known I was an intellectual and geographical gypsy, but for a very long time I didn’t know what made me most happy. These days I do, which is probably why I’m generally sporting an idiot grin.

What are these things? Not surprisingly, they are the very elements with which I started out this life. And, in contrast to the topics with which I have but passing fancy, they are also the things that endure.

One of them is the Ozarks itself. It seems, no matter how far I’ve wandered, it is the Ozarks to which I return. This go-round, snug in my little cabin on the Gasconade, I’m smart enough to know that leaving again would bruise my heart. I like the herons in the shallows, catfish fried fresh from the river, and the absolute peace of my home. I like the attitude, language, and laughter of the people and spending time with family and friends here. Summer humidity, armies of ticks, and the occasional ice storm are a small price to pay for such gifts.

Another is dogs —all dogs. I’d have an entire pack if mine weren’t so old, set in their ways, and happy as clams (traits shared with the human who lives with them). I know that life without a dog is no life at all. They give me joy beyond joy.

There is more. I would rather build guitars or dulcimers or psalteries or anything with strings on it than eat. On the other hand, speaking of eating, I’m blessed to live in the culinary epicenter of anything fried, smoked, or barbecued. For entertainment, I can blast my shotgun from the porch, cast a line, sing as loud as I want, and write stories surrounded by Milk Bone-addicted fur wagons.

Some folks would find all this a tad strange, but forty-eight years have taught me one core lesson. For happiness, you hold close those things that endure. All else is fleeting. For best results, move slowly and think quickly. Mostly, folks should be themselves, offering little compromise but demonstrating great conviction.

Chasing that which you think you want is an amusing diversion. Learning what you truly want is a success story. Knowing who you really are is what makes it all possible.

Check out this musical instrument that Ron makes here. You can find this instrument at our Missouri Life Mercantile at the Missouri Life offices at 208 Columbia St., Rocheport, MO 65279.

Article originally published in the October/Novemvber 2007 issue of Missouri Life.