The eccentric neighbor

May 8, 2024

By Jeff Becraft


When I was growing up as a kid, there was one time that one of our neighbors was out at nighttime in the pitch dark, mowing his grass with a flashlight. Now, I shared a room with my brother and both of us were crowded at the window watching this. We just could not believe that he was out there with a flashlight mowing his grass.

And we laughed.

Unfortunately, we also made fun of him to ourselves… about, you know, who is this eccentric neighbor that’s out there at nighttime with a flashlight?

Well, I’m older and grumpier now… and just the other night, I came home from work and I told my wife, “I’m going to mow the grass.” She said to me, “You’re going to go out and mow the grass at 8:30 at night?” I responded, “When else am I going to do it? We were gone this past weekend. And it needs to get cut.”

Now, I don’t use a basic flashlight… what I have is a headlight. And so I go out there with my headlight… in the dark… and I’m mowing our front yard. As I’m doing this, I’m thinking about my childhood. And I’m thinking about the eccentric neighbor when I was growing up. Here I am out in the pitch dark with a headlight. One of my neighbors is already in bed because he has to leave his house really early in the morning to go to work. Their lights are out… but my headlight is not out. I’m there in the front yard going back and forth with that lawn mower just singing at the top of its lungs.

The eccentric neighbor next door?… well, that’s me.

And it’s not the first time I’ve ever mowed our grass at nighttime. Sometimes that’s the only time there is to do it.

Maybe my neighbor growing up, well, maybe he wasn’t that eccentric after all. And maybe before I judge someone, maybe I should stop and think… I might be more like them than I realize.


Jeff Becraft is the Director of Our Place of Hope and the Director Emeritus for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives. Our Place of Hope is a paradigm shift for people living with mental illness that encourages them to regain meaning, purpose, and hope for their lives. You can connect with Jeff at  [email protected].