I need to take on only what I can maintain; know when to finish and when to walk away; and keep exploring new places and old things.
The story of “Ran When Parked” begins in downtown Ontario, Oregon in the mid-1970s. That’s when I discovered an abandoned lumberyard, exploring Ontario’s nooks and crannies by bicycle as a kid.
The double-decker wooden outbuilding for lumber was empty. But inside the old office building I found all kinds of odds and ends: little plastic boxes, hardware, office debris, and other fascinating detritus. It was so much fun I took my dad back there and we had a fun hour or two exploring.
Since then I’ve had a fascination for abandoned places and things. I’ve explored countless abandoned houses; an ancient church and a medieval castle in France; abandoned ranches in southern Arizona; shipwrecks; ruins; missile silo sites; picturesque old barns; pioneer cemeteries. I found a car (but no corpse) deep in a desert wash near Tucson; I rigged up mud pattens to slosh my way to an old building site; I found an old truck completely covered with blackberry vines in a defunct Christmas tree farm.
The mystery intrigues me. What happened just before everyone cleared the scene? Somehow, that truck made it to its final resting place in the Christmas tree farm. It ran when it was parked.
“Ran When Parked” has several meanings for me. First, I must care for the important things in my life, so they never have to be abandoned or fall into decay. To enjoy pearls for decades, you must wear them, and accept their care and cleaning. This is true of many things in our lives. To succeed at this, I must not take on more than I can maintain.
Second, I must strive to finish what I start, especially creative works. But at the same time, “Ran When Parked” asks me if I’m falling victim to the “sunk cost fallacy.” Yes, it’s good to get the satisfaction and closure from completing something. But sometimes I can’t, and if I’ve invested a lot of time and effort, I don’t want to quit when I should. Sometimes it’s better to walk away. “Ran When Parked” reminds me to make the distinction.
Finally, “Ran When Parked” reminds me to stay curious about people and their lives, appreciate history, seek the joy of discovery, dive into the intrigue of mystery, and enjoy the excitement of exploration.