What worries you?

If you have time, I’d like your opinion on a theological problem that worries me.

The online booking engines I discovered last year are bringing more friends to our bed-and-breakfast than Marsha and I can handle. We will certainly be turning people away this summer.

These dozens of B&B friends will enable me to pay off my mortgage before the first frost. Although I’ve looked forward to that day for 47 years, therein lies my problem.

I will no longer be poor – for you will agree that a person like Longfellow’s Village Blacksmith, who “owes not any man,” is rich. For the first time since I first borrowed change from my brother when he was 5 and I was 10, I will not owe any money. And if you are not working to pay off your debts, how do you justify your existence?

If you don’t owe somebody for something, it is probably because you are either very smart or able to work five days a week from 8 until 4. The rest of us spend our lives in the position of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s coal miner who couldn’t die because he owed his soul to the company store.

A few of us have never been able to work for someone else. We were born tired and drop in our tracks shortly after noon. While making Edsel radios in 1957, I spent my noon break sleeping on the floor. The thought of having to be somewhere at a certain time every day where I would have to do the same thing over and over is unthinkable. Those of us so afflicted end up playing in bands or entertaining audiences from the stage. We might produce wonderful works of art – or write for newspapers. For our entire lives, we were able to earn just barely enough to keep the banks at bay.

There was light at the end of my tunnel until a day in 1988 when I walked into my forest and saw that some of it that I’d been paying taxes on for 18 years hadn’t belonged to me and was surveyed into house lots. I quickly remortgaged my house and bought the entire “development” to preserve the neighborhood. Now, as a forest under conservation, in 100 years it will be one of the few places in St. George where my neighbors’ great-grandchildren will be able to shoot little furry animals.

I like this bed-and-breakfast business. Every day, interesting people come to visit. They are from everywhere, they all have stories to tell and they pay me to listen.

Two elderly ladies said that their lives were more difficult since their children became adults. When I asked why, one said, “Oh, when they grow up they have children, they get divorced, they borrow money.”

I like working in my home. I like the fact that no matter how many loads of wash I do and no matter how often I run the clothes dryer, I am generating all that electricity with my 30 solar panels, so until the people who are getting rich selling energy have their way, my $154.56 yearly on-grid fee doesn’t change.

I like making new friends. Whenever I see the toilet in the executive suite, I think of the boy from Brazil who wouldn’t leave until he’d put new guts in the tank so it would flush properly.

His wife and mother-in-law, who were packed and ready to leave, had to wait for him to do it. He was some kind of computer or techie guru whose dream was to own a B&B. He effected the repair by snipping something off the flapper with a pair of scissors. I wish I’d seen what he did.

While paying me rent, Earl and Bill helped me put up solar panels. Al fixed the foundation on my house when Lyme disease messed up my knees so I could barely walk. Al also enhanced our lives with his guitar-accompanied rendition of “Dippin’ Copenhagen Snuffed Out My Old Flame.” (You can find it under my name on YouTube.) B&B friends like Dr. Karen, Professor Peter, Heather Grills, George and Denise, the Huppers and dozens of others enhance our lives by becoming part of our family for a few days every year.

So, with such a wonderful summer season to look forward to, why should I be a bit antsy?

Well, what’s to do when your mortgage is paid off? When the bank is not gobbling up half of my yearly income for indiscretions incurred from 20 to 50 years ago, what will I have to look forward to?

My concerns are of a theological nature.

Is there life after debt?

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at his website:

www.thehumblefarmer.com/MainePrivateRadio.html