Pinch of Salt Graphic (English)

It snuck up on me.

Oh, I knew it was coming. The plans have been in the works for a month or two, and there had been plenty of talk.

I didn't pay enough attention. I had overheard some of the conversations, and I even saw some paperwork.

But I was too involved in important things — the health threats of this pandemic thing; how the fight against COVID-19 has impacted the local, national and global economy; the Black Lives Matter and police policies that have, finally, brought discussion of systemic racism to the forefront; the Most Important Election In History — stuff like that.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

I find it more than a little ironic that I'm isolated in my garage/office, going hours and days without physically seeing anyone, and I'm claiming I'm too wrapped up in world affairs to take notice of what's happening right under my nose. But that's what happened.

"What's he talking about?" you ask. "Get to the point," you say.

Here it is, I reply.

Erik is on an airplane to Georgia as I type. Maria got up early and took him to the airport so I could get to work on deadline day.

It is the single biggest step Erik has taken in his young life. To him, this trip and what will follow is a hundred times more important than all those Big Issues taking up all my attention.

And that's as it should be.

"Who's Erik?" you ask. "And why should I care?"

Fair enough. Erik Edwards has been living in our spare room for the last few years — since he graduated from high school. He isn't a blood relative, but Maria and I are closer to him than more than a few of our distant cousins. I've called him our surrogate grandson — Maria just calls him grandson.

Erik turned 20 years old a week ago. After he graduated from high school, we tried to get him interested in college. No luck – Erik isn't really college material, and he knows it.

Every few weeks, I'd bring a job opportunity home for him. He would nod, then turn back to his friends and their joint YouTube endeavors (or the multi-multi-player video games that consume so much of some young people's lives).

Imagine my surprise, then, when he announced a month or so ago that he was moving across the country to live with one of his on-line friends. That friend happens to be a welder — one of the few skills Erik has shown some interest in. (It started with the ability to forge his own swords, but that's another story.)

It seems said friend had a way to sponsor Erik into a welding school, along with a house to share. Significant others were invited to join the endeavor, which sealed the deal for Erik.

Notice that none of the Big Issues that take up so much of our time comes up in this major life decision. For Erik, the really important thing is starting a life on his own.

And, sacrilege as it may be to us Socially Involved types, Erik has it right. For him.

Life truly does go on even as we fight the pandemic and try to be better people. For 5-year-old granddaughter Korie, there's nothing more important than losing her first tooth and making sure the Tooth Fairy knows about it. For 10-year-old granddaughter Allison, getting ready to see her friends and teachers in person has become all-consuming.

I think that it's probably up to us adult types to deal with that big world-shattering stuff specifically so those following us have a chance to concentrate on their own lives. And, God willing, I'll start giving a little more attention to what's truly important to those around me while I do that.

Good luck, Erik. God speed, and let me know if you need a little help down the line.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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