Just because a person misspeaks once, doesn’t mean the person is all-bad or all-wrong. As humans, we are prone to error. What makes us think another is in the wrong because of a mistake? What makes us think we are totally in the right because the mistake is obvious to us?
As I was washing dishes this morning, I rinsed out the small tub I use in my kitchen sink. There’s no dishwasher here but me. When I was drying it off, its white plastic not one I would choose, I thought of my Grandma Whitley. She always had a white plastic container she would put in her old porcelain sink to wash dishes. When the huge Whitley family gathered for meals, I always volunteered to do dishes. It’s something I never minded. It was also a way I could be around the women of my Southern family in a way that didn’t make me so nervous. I could listen and look out the window. They could talk.
We think we humans know how to love. It seems we only know how to create illusions of love. Then, when life gets tough, we take a pin to pop the bubble or the balloon of the illusion and think love is over when in fact, it may only have just begun.
Sometimes the audio picked up the sound of Birdie swallowing or making a sound in her sleep. The sound is NOT my stomach growling. LOL
“The soul often speaks through longing.” ~Sue Monk Kidd
On December 7th, I was honored to present my new book at the Watauga Public Library in Boone, NC. There were about eight of us total. That makes a great group for discussion. One of the challenges in promoting my book has been…well, promotion.
What I really want to promote is well-being, community, and love. Of course, it will be great if folks buy my books, then I can buy wood for the fire or save up for snow tires. But the reality is that I write because I must write. There’s a theme to my life that won’t let me go. Even when I paint or draw, it is with the hope to build comradery or open another’s eyes to the beauty of the ordinary.
Music is the same. I remember listening to Cat Stevens records as a youth and thinking how this stranger could touch my heart, mind, and soul with one song. I was listening to his song, The King of Trees. As I look at the lyrics now, I’m not sure why this song set my imagination soaring so high. Part of it was the music I know. Trees have always spoken to me. Still, through that song, I knew that someone understood me in the world even though I didn’t know him personally.
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” ― Mother Teresa
Isn’t that one of the many reasons we read? To be understood or to learn to understand our own self? I read for many reasons, escape, to understand the world, to understand God, to seek to know how to live, for entertainment, etc. Books are my friends. It’s rare that I read a book twice, but I love seeing the binding and how it reminds me that the story lives in the book and somehow lives in my own life.
At the event on Thursday, I read from my new novel and made people laugh. We then began to talk about community because my novel, Finding Home, is about belonging to community. It is fiction, but this fiction is also based upon real, rural communities that I’ve lived in during my lifetime. These were places where people care for one another and look out for each other. There are places where people feel they don’t belong. I get that. My point in the novel is this, find the community where you DO belong. More importantly though, be the person who makes your community better.
In this day and time, we are losing a sense of caring for each other. I’m not going to attack social media, though I do believe we must choose better ways to use social media with an emphasis on the “social” portion that emphasizes the welfare of others. When we talk about being social to each other, we most often imply a sense of respect and perhaps even kindness. While there are some of my friends who use social media to post political topics, most of my friends are seeking to remain connected (or become connected) to a community. Even those who post political things are talking about a community. This digresses a bit.
My point is this. Community matters. What does it mean to respect each other regardless of socioeconomic status, religion, political affiliation? Life. We are all in life together. While each person has a different set of circumstances to deal with, we all have more in common than we are currently acknowledging in this divisive atmosphere. Disagreeing with each other doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Letting those disagreements divide us is the action which needs to cause us alarm. Carl Sagan talks how each person is precious.
“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” ― Carl Sagan, Cosmos
My heart and soul have always believed in the goodness of humanity. Let’s choose to focus on what’s right with our communities. When people are in need, let’s lift them up instead of belittling others. This is not an easy thing to do with so many injustices happening in our world, but we don’t have control over the entire world, just our own actions. I believe in you and your goodness. I believe that when we embrace our own goodness and kindness, the world can deal with anything that happens. We need each other.
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Giving thanks is a good thing. Many theologians believe that is humanity’s only purpose in life. Not sure where I stand on that right now because I believe God made us more than that. I do know I don’t celebrate the destruction of the Native American communities. Of course, if the Native Americans had not saved the white people of that long ago time, my family probably would not be here. Most of my descendants came over in the 17th century.
While I am thankful this year, I cannot say I am happy. This is the first Thanksgiving in eleven years without my wife by my side. At first, I planned on hiding out in the condo. Part of me still wishes for the solitude of grief. The other part however wants to embrace the family and friends who still love me and who are still here
for me and Birdie. Birdie of course is thankful and happy. As long as she can go with, that dog is happy.
If Birdie could drive she would. She wouldn’t leave me either I bet. I know she is thankful for me. Birdie is also thankful for this condo. She even makes me smile when we come in from a walk and she runs hard as she can in the small space. She then encourages me to play and be happy with her. She knows we are safe here and that this is our new place.
A safe place to live was my goal. Once it was clear that my wife wanted a long separation, I had to find a place to live that was affordable, safe, and quiet that also accepted a small dog.
Quiet is as much for healing as it is for sanity. Here on the mountain, there is plenty of solitude. At first I thought I might have moved to a ghost town, but I moved here at the end of the summer tourist season. I look forward to ski season. They are already making snow at Beech Mountain Ski Resort.
When we returned from my book reading the other day, Beech Mountain had a nice covering of snow. It was both exciting and scary. I was thankful that the roads were clear since I haven’t gotten snow tires yet. When we made it to the condo, Birdie was excited to see the snow even though the temperature was at 28 and we didn’t have her coat.
Thankfulness can come from many places in our hearts, our lives, our work. Just because a holiday happens doesn’t mean we won’t grieve the loss of loved ones. Whether we lose someone dear because of death, separation, divorce, moving away, loss is hard and grief inevitable. As I go to my family’s tomorrow, I plan to talk to them about my sadness while also enjoying my time with them. The thing is, life is short. My ex (it still feels weird to say that) knows that I am thankful for her. In an email regarding something else, we expressed our mutual gratitude. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard or sad.
We can be thankful regardless of our emotions for gratitude is acknowledgement of a gift. Whether it’s the gift of a dog’s presence or solitude matters not. Gifts are not those things bought at the store in a holiday rush. The true gifts are those things around us like nature, family, friends, work, love, play. Those are the things that make life worth living. I am thankful that I have a life worth living.
Several people have asked about autographed copies. There are two different ways to do this. To pre-order copies and have me write you a personal note, you can click on the PayPal button now.
Another way that also supports Indie Booksellers is to pre-order with City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, NC where I will be doing my first book signing on November 18th, 2017. I will also sign any copies the store has on hand for those who come by or shop later online.
Ordering from City Lights may longer, because I must get there and sign them. Still, they are a great bookstore with great people. My first two books are in-stock there and signed already! So there is that availability. The best thing about City Lights is that if you go there, you can sit down and read what you might like best. They have both a great new section, used section, and Regional section. AND – it’s a bookstore! It’s the place I miss most about Sylva.
My memoir is In A Southern Closet. This is the second edition. I think City Lights has only the first edition with a different format and cover. This has been re-released in preparation for the audio version due out January 2018.
My poetry book, More Than Knowing, is available through Regal Crest Enterprises if you’re buying online, but City Lights also has an autographed copy.