Ralph Stanley for President!


“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” -Alan Alda

by Gary

If  you drive across the parking lot next to our Family Life Center, you’ll come to 9th street on the east side of the lot. Here 9th Street looks like a small alley but if you drive north, it’ll turn into a much more respectable road. From here, 9th street takes you north across Main Street and up past the the school’s administration building on the right and a little further up is the junior high school on the left. You finally come to the intersection with Hancock Avenue, which with a left turn will take you to the high school.

_medium_oldsettlers_31107I drive this road a lot; many times each week to pick teens up from the high school for lunch. For over 8 years now, I’ve driven this same route and I almost always reverse the route to come back to the office. On the reverse trip, you drive south down 9th street, back past the junior high, back past the administration building and towards Main Street. But one block before Main Street sits an old, beat-up, faded-red pickup truck. It’s probably a late 70s model.

I’ve never seen this truck move. I’ve never even seen anything that would make me think this truck can move. It’s in the exact same spot every day and has been for the past 8 years as far as I can tell. But the most interesting thing about this truck is a bumper sticker, which looks to have been unceremoniously stuck just above the back window instead of on the bumper. The sticker reads, “Ralph Stanley for President.”

I really had no idea who Ralph Stanley was so I always assumed he was some third party candidate from the 1976 election. (this election year was chosen based on the age of the truck) I really wasn’t into politics then being that I was in Kindergarten that year. So for the past several years, I lived on this assumption of Ralph Stanley’s identity. Many times it crossed my mind to look him up online to verify my assumption, but I never took the time. But I did enjoy seeing that truck.

It turns out that Ralph Stanley is considered to be the Father of Bluegrass. All this time I thought he was a politician and it turns out he’s something much more important and respectable. (and I’m fighting hard to leave out the jokes about whether we’d be better off right now with him as President!) Curt Parsley brought his name up one day when we were talking about music this past fall. After pretending I wasn’t confused, I set about to un-confuse myself about Ralph Stanley. You can read about him by clicking here.

I bought some of his music from iTunes and love it! I’m starting to enjoy bluegrass. I’ve always loved folklore and much of bluegrass music is folklore set in songs. You should try some and see if it scratches the itch in your soul to hear some songs about life and ‘home.’ It also turns out that Ralph Stanley is playing in Bloomington tonight. Curt got tickets for us so we’re taking our lovely brides, Beth and Michelle, out for the show. To be honest, I think they are humoring Curt and me but they might not admit that. I’ll let you know how the concert was.

All of this (my assumptions being wrong about Ralph Stanley) has caused me to make some assumptions on my assumptions. Maybe I’m assuming where I shouldn’t be img_4810assuming. There’s a possibility that I could be missing opportunities to help, love, guide, bless or gather friends and strangers based on my assumptions. Further, I think the most dangerous assumptions I’ve made may not be the ones where I’ve thought and then acted. I think the most dangerous assumptions may come when I look at someone or some situation and say, ‘eh.’ I don’t think any further. I just stop. I assume there’s nothing more than meets the eye, or nothing deeper to ponder and therefore stop thinking on it. How many things have I missed by not looking a little more deeply?

I’m getting the feeling that some things I’ve just assumed really need some new thought put into them. There are some people and problems that may need my time. That old red pickup truck may have been sitting there the past decade just to catch my attention: to wake me up from my stupor of assuming and to encourage me to re-engage my mind on some things, on some people, on some pain, on some ways to bless. Time to look around. You too, look around.

Maybe I’ll see you, maybe you’ll see me…maybe for the first time.

And remember, Ralph Stanley for President!

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1 Comment

Filed under Music, New Thoughts

One response to “Ralph Stanley for President!

  1. Erica

    I’m surprised you are just discovering Dr. Stanley, Gary. He’s amazing. I was at the show in B-town, and thought the boys did a great job.
    If you’re interested, be sure to Google “Bean Blossom Music Festival” (June). The Saturday show is quite a treat. Cheers!

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