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Blonde On The Prairie: You can be happy if you’ve a mind to

April 20, 2012

It doesn’t take much to get me to wondering. In this case all it took was a song I heard on an AM radio station. Speaking of heard: The name of the song was, “You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd.” It was written by a Mr. Roger Miller. I’m supposing that if there were ever a person deceased that I’d have liked to have met before they arrived it would have been him. Some of you may know the song and I invite you to hum along as I share a bit of it with you. Here goes:

“You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd.
You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd.
You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd-
But you can be happy if you’ve a mind to.

Bravo to Mr. Roger Miller! The song begins rather negatively. It displays a connotation of not being able to accomplish something. There are not too many people who rightfully enjoy being told they “can’t” do something when the person is suppos’in they can. For the whole night after I heard this song on the radio I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Self? How did the songwriter ascertain that he couldn’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd?” My eyes wandered together to the right then slowly to the upper left before I had to rest my pointer finger on my nose. That must have taken some fortitude for him to strap on an old pair of roller skates and make the attempt to do it in amongst a buffalo herd. I was only concentrating on the first three lines. I’m not a psychiatrist or a psychologist but I’m guessing it is completely normal that I was stuck on the first three lines. Repetition tends to keep one interested even when it’s negative. From this song I was transported back, once again, to my childhood.

I was 3 years old when I began Sunday school at Zion Lutheran Church in Harwood, North Dakota. It was in that first Sunday school class that I heard the words “You can’t.” The teacher handed us a coloring page with a lion and a scripture about how God can help save us from trouble. I began coloring with all my might. I was coloring that lion purple until little miss 3 year old Krissy Schoon informed me, “You can’t color your lion purple!” It got my gander up just enough to test the waters. She told me I couldn’t color my lion purple because apparently the rest of the world thinks they should be another color. She told me I couldn’t color my lion purple but I proved her wrong abundantly because I just did. The lion on my page was purple. Victory!

Have you ever been told you can’t do something and you believe it? Jealous friends will tell you “You can’t” as often as they can. The US government will tell you “You can’t” do a whole bunch of things. My parents just like your parents probably told you “You can’t” but for a whole other purpose. Parents many times “can’t” you to death while still living at home so not to find you in harms way. You have all heard “You can’t” sometime or another in your life.” How you handled that criticism is the key.

It’s the last line of each chorus of Mr. Miller’s song that intrigues me the most. Get your voice ready. Hum the first 3 lines and then sing the last line with me. Ready?

“You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd.
You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd.
You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd-
But you can be happy if you’ve a mind to.”

What a great ending! You probably really can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd and why would you want to? If you wanted to and couldn’t that may feel kind of ucky. The songwriter puts a Band-Aid on it all and informs us that we can be happy if we’ve a mind to and not just rollerskating in a buffalo herd.

Today I am bloated from eating too much broccoli. I can’t jump on the trampoline without “tooting” but I can be happy if I’ve a mind to.

You can’t do everything but you can choose to be happy in everything. Won’t you join me?

Ingstad lives on the prairie near Valley City and writes this column for the Times-Record.

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