Focusing on important things one of major keys to life

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 4/21/21

It’s amazing what you can learn these days. I guess that was always the case but technology and the internet make it so much easier now.

In the old days, of course, there was also lots of …

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Focusing on important things one of major keys to life

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It’s amazing what you can learn these days. I guess that was always the case but technology and the internet make it so much easier now.

In the old days, of course, there was also lots of information available and much to learn. You just had to be willing to take the hard road of research. Often that involved getting lost in the inner workings — typically referred to as “the stacks” — of libraries. I remember as part of orientation in my first freshman year of college (I had three) that we were taken to the library and shown how to use the card catalog to find what we were looking for.

Today, it’s just the push of a button that does it for you, provided you can take a break from taking “selfies” or playing games. Obviously, that’s much easier and quicker; you just have to decide if what you’ve found is at least partly true or important.

I say all that to say that recently I ran across a statement that said a frog’s field of vision is somewhat like a blackboard (or whiteboard, for you modernists) that has been wiped clean; that the little guy sees only what directly impacts him or is a danger. I’m not sure how biologists know that unless they have interviewed a frog but I do know that now I’m probably equipped to write a paper about frogs and their eyes because checking that out sent me on several chases to learn more information. For instance, did you know that when a frog catches a meal — say, a fly — on its tongue that its eyes come inside of its head and help push the food down its itty-bitty throat?

Neither did I, until undertaking this research.

While all that information may be interesting or at least worth a question on “Jeopardy,” it’s the application of any information that makes it worthwhile. And for me, the notion that a frog sees only what’s important brought back a memory and also offered an up-to-date use.

The memory supported that truth about a frog’s field of vision. As a youngster, one of the highlights of my existence was when my dad and I, along with one of my brothers or maybe our neighbor Allen Money, would spend a summer night hunting bullfrogs. Lest you think we were simply torturing the little creatures, we were harvesting them for food, much as someone fishes or goes after deer.

We had to wait until about dark-thirty on those evenings so it would be dark enough for the frogs not to see us right away. There was a ladder of participation you had to climb in frog hunting, done either with a “gig” (an instrument like a small pitchfork) or a .22 rifle. We used the gig, as did all purists, because the problem with the rifle was if you shot a frog, he might still hop away and you lost your food.

Anyway, as a beginner you could only carry — or “tote,” as we said — the burlap bag that would hold your night’s work. Later on, with experience, you could move up to shooting snakes with that same .22 rifle, an important task since you did not want to inadvertently harvest a water moccasin or have one fall into your boat as you slipped beneath an overhanging tree limb. One night, as I remember, the “Man With No Shoulders” did in fact drop into our boat; one of the occupants bailed out over the side, went under the boat and came up on the other side so quickly the money in his wallet stayed dry.

But of all the tasks associated with frog-harvesting, none were any more important than carrying the big five-cell flashlight we used to blind the frog’s vision.

Remembering and thinking about that caused me to consider myself and my human counterparts, especially as we move into the second year of coronavirus and COVID. I’m not going to rehash all we’ve all been through but I do want to throw out the question of what are we seeing in our field of vision.

These unsettled times of information, misinformation, even lack of information — call it what you will — can lead us to confusion and distraction. We’re also pretty good as people at allowing our lives to become cluttered with insignificant or materialistic things that we lose sight of what’s significant. We lose our perspective about the things the Bible says are eternal and those which are temporary.

Sometimes it just happens. We may be looking at one thing and realize eventually we’ve been led from one place to another and to yet another until we’re a long way from where we started. But we can also deliberately find ourselves there, too.

It’s been a long time since I went frog-harvesting. Both my dad and Mr. Money have crossed the Great Divide and my two brothers and I have creaky joints, no boat and don’t swim too well anymore. I have been tempted in the past to order frog legs at those restaurants which have them on the menu but my memories won’t let me mingle the taste of those in the wild my mama would fix for breakfast the next morning after a long night out with the flavor of those raised commercially.

But I do hope I can learn the difference between what’s important in life and what’s not. I hope there are a few more years left to try to get it down a little better.

Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.


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