For Every Pothole, There’s a Pony Ride, so Stay in the Saddle

Advice from America’s favorite Tupperware Lady, Dixie Longate

Dixie Longate speaks onstage

Never Wear A Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull – Photo by John Moore

Momma always used to say, “Well, you bought the ticket, now you gotta go for the ride.” She also said lots of stuff about goats, mostly because we didn’t have one but I know she always wanted one, but that’s not what I’m focused on here. I’m focused on the thing she said that wasn’t about the goats.

“You bought the ticket, now you gotta go for the ride.” When she would say that, it was usually meant in the same way a northerner would talk about making your bed and laying in it. You reap what you sow. You have to suffer the consequences of your actions. If there are more than four empty bottles on the bedside table that started out as full just a few hours earlier, you’re going to have regrets. Not just because you’ll wake up with a nightmare of a hangover, but also because the likelihood that you fell asleep on top of your phone means you didn’t plug it in, which means it’s probably dead, which means you likely didn’t have an alarm go off which means you missed either A) a major work meeting, B) a lunch with Susan or C) your final parole board hearing.

Now, we all know that missing a lunch with Susan is only bad because she was supposed to bring the Tupperware back that she borrowed from you so she could bring something to the church picnic, which she didn’t show up for. No one really cared because Susan tends to never shut up once she gets to talking and everyone kind of views her as a general pain in the ass, even the reverend. Sometimes, it’s worth the now-empty space in your Tupperware cabinet just so that you don’t have to see her. It’s a small price to pay, and I’m saying that as someone who loves my Tupperware more than I love my own children.

Dixie Longate rides a mechanical bull

Never Wear A Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull – Photo by John Moore

A major work meeting or a final parole board hearing, while both important, can always be rescheduled if you present a sufficiently realistic piece of stationery that looks like it came from a hospital with a signature scribbled haphazardly enough that you can convince the powers that be that it came from a real doctor, even if you don’t know a real doctor and live nowhere near a hospital.

Bottom line, all these things come with some sort of consequences. That’s what the saying is supposed to be about. But I never took it that way. Maybe because I was a kid when she first said it to me and my brain wasn’t fully formed yet. But I took it to be a little more of a rallying cry. Whether you are sitting in the passenger seat, in the back of the roller coaster or on the mechanical bull, you gotta go for the ride. You don’t necessarily know what the ride is going to be like. You don’t know if it is going to knock the wind out of you or take your breath away. Both of those might end with the same result but the Ride is very different indeed. You can either look at things as terrible and scary or you can do your best to see all the little flashes of light and pieces of joy that are scattered along the way.

A pile of broken glass might trouble you, but when someone puts those little pieces together to make a stained glass window, the results are glorious. That’s all because of the way you look at things. You might see a pile of glass, the artist might see something beautiful that belongs in a church with light streaming through it on a Sunday morning. Does it knock the wind out of you or does it take your breath away? At the end of the day, that’s actually your choice. 

If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s that we have a choice in the way we look at things. We are all lucky enough to be here but there was never any guarantee that life would be easy or even that it would go in a straight line. If you had told me five years ago what we would be living through, I never would have believed you. But I’m here. I bought the ticket. I get to be on this planet for however long or short that time will be. Now I gotta go for that ride. For every pothole, there’s a pony ride. For every locked gate, there is an open window. For every grumpy old man that cuts you off on the freeway, there was a young person who awkwardly lost his virginity next to that famous poster of Farrah Fawcett in her rust-colored bathing suit 42 years ago.

Take the tough parts of life and find their sparkle. Look for those moments of gratitude in even the most painful situations. Squint if you have to, but I guarantee you, they are there. Go for the ride. It’s going to be a wild one but I promise you, it will be worth it.

Get more life advice from Dixie at Dixie Longate’s Cherry Bombs & Bottle Rockets playing July 8 in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.