George Packard, retired schoolteacher, was sitting on the 704 bus, headed for the beach. In his mind was a thought, a memory.
“Swimming against the tide”. That was it! That was what old Melissio had told him.
“Why you always wanna swimmin against the tide?” would ask Melissio, one of the village elders in the Salvadorean town ____________ .
George was in the Peace Corps back then, and Melissio had quickly become his good friend. That was back in the 70’s. But Melissio’s words still rang true. George Packard had always swum against the tide. All these years he had done what he wanted in his life, at least so far. And doing what you wanted to do often meant swimming against the tide. But George had no particular complaints or regrets. Only thing was that he still wanted to do more, to go on with his life. And this was just as problematic for him as it had always been. This swimming against the tide.
“Careful calculation, that’s how you do it,” his father used to say while he raised his head and propped his elbows on the hood of an old Packard.
Little George would ask: “Yeah, but how do you do it? How do you do it? How do you build an engine, Dad?”
“Careful calculation” was his father’s response. He would hand George a ruler.
“Go, measure me that piece of wood over there”.
When George would finish measuring and report back to his Dad with the result of the measurement, his Dad would look up from his work, look George in the eye and say with a wry smile: “Measure it again”.
Of course, these repeated measurements would yield slightly different results. Little George would puzzle over his measuring; his Dad would chuckle.
“Yeah. You just have to measure things as good as you can, George, then maybe a little math, and taking things into account. Then maybe some more measuring. And then you bang around with these tools for a while and then you got it.”
“Well, you got your car, George! “