[January 19, 2019] My dad used to tell me this all the time; it seemed like anyway. I would get mentally worked up over my school, part-time job, friends, the stupid family dog, etc. While growing up, he would simply say, don’t get wrapped around the axle.1 I immediately knew what he meant.
When I was a sophomore in High School, I bought my first car. It was a 1953 Chevrolet two-door sedan. It had a straight-six cylinder engine and so much room in its large engine compartment you could stand up in it. The transmission was a standard “three on the tree” so I had to get used to a stick shift. But it was my first car, and so I loved it anyway.
One day in the Summer of ‘68, while out with my friends, we were traveling off-road (not recommended for sedans). A lengthy utility wire got caught on and wrapped around the rear axle near the passenger side. Fortunately, I carried a small toolkit in the trunk and over about an hour was able to free the axle. My friends helped.
Earlier in the year, I had purchased the brown-over-tan Chevy from a neighbor. He was an older man who was a vice principal in the Abilene, Texas school system. It cost me $100. The paperwork needed to make the transaction possible in Texas was overwhelming for me. Why I asked, couldn’t I simply give him the money? The bureaucracy was new to me and not pleasant.
My dad advised me not to get wrapped around the axle doing the paperwork. I would never have guessed that only a few months later when I took it off-road, I would have the axle-wrapping experience literally. I liked motorcycles better than cars, but if you wanted to go anywhere more than 50 miles in West Texas, a car was the only pragmatic way to go.
My dad is a great guy and always tried his best to teach me the rules of the adult game. Despite being a stubborn learner, I occasionally listened to what he had to say. Stay calm, even when circumstances are out of your control. Be a rock in the stream for others. Leaders do this. They are mentally stable, personally calm, and always ready. Leaders don’t get wrapped around the axle.
- Idiom: to be confused by something, to the point of paralysis. https://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/54/messages/636.html