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This must be the place: Breakin’ ties that you’d grown, catchin’ dreams from the clouds

This must be the place: Breakin’ ties that you’d grown, catchin’ dreams from the clouds

The crisp air now wafts into the open windows of my quiet apartment in downtown Waynesville. The ushering in of fall. Another summer has come and gone in the blink of an eye. 

Hold on to those blazing sunsets on some mountain peak or atop some lake somewhere during Memorial Day to Labor Day shenanigans before it’s all forgotten in haste. Capture and enshrine those memories fondly when the weather gets cold and the snow starts flying in Western North Carolina. 

It’s all so inevitable, which is what captives my heart and soul so damn much. The birth of spring. The exploration of summer. The wisdom of fall. The death of winter. And the full circle of nature when the frozen ground once again gives way to fresh flowers and green grass. 

Through this current seasonal transition, I think of a recent conversation with a dear friend. We’re about the same age, early to mid-30s. Our “summer years” will eventually slide into the wisdom of fall. The calendar on the wall seems to flip by much faster these days. So, hold on to life with every ounce of yourself. 

He’s a well-known singer-songwriter out of Burlington, Vermont, just “across the pond” of Lake Champlain from my native Plattsburgh, New York. On a trip back last month to the North Country, I swung by his apartment in downtown Burlington. 

We left his place and walked along the lake, taking our time in heading to the nearby pub for a beer and some hearty conversation. The banter swirled around the idea of creative fulfillment within a stable financial setting, and if one could do so without “playing the game” of seeking new levels at the hands of gatekeepers. 

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Both of us have spent years pursuing some level of success in our respective fields. Running as fast as we can towards whatever it means to be a respected artist that can pay the bills and keep the lights on. 

And in the midst of the topic over a cold Vermont craft lager, I told him about massively successful musicians I’ve interviewed, and how they’re constantly worried about getting to the “next level.” So, it never stops. Even at that level we think we want to be at, there’s always someone above us trying to get higher. 

We concurred that as long as he was able to perform music, and as long as I’m able to write, then we are living our dreams — we, in essence, have arrived. My old truck and his van have gas in the tank. There’s food in the refrigerators. And we have projects on the horizon for years to come. 

So, why drive yourself crazy? Aside from being able to live with less and want less in a material world, your existence should circle back to why you do what you do in the first place — because it makes you happy. 

Stop thinking about where you “need to be,” and take a moment to reflect on how far you’ve actually come with your passions and goals. The key is to keep creating, keep inventing and reinventing yourself in whatever facet that may be in your daily personal and professional life. 

Sure, bills need to be paid. And there will always be bills, no matter what. “More money, more problems,” as they say. So, live with less, spend less, to which — create more in the name of art, seek more in the name of curiosity. 

Don’t equate your dreams to levels. Your dreams should be sought after with a reckless abandon, but, at the same time, comparing yourself to others and to some kind of monetary value will only drive you crazy in the end. Make your dreams into a reality through honest truths and sincere attempts at creating the life you’ve always wanted. 

Just remember, even if life sucks, it’s still pretty damn incredible, no matter what. This is truth. Give and receive love (or work towards that). Create within your true heart and soul. Support your friends and family.

Buy local goods. Drink good bourbon. Chase after great live music. Shake hands and hug deeply (bear hugs) amid badass conversations with strangers, especially over a cold brew.

Be in awe of others, and yourself, too. Love deeply. Forgive willingly. Always take time for coffee in a diner with a new or old friend (all friends matter). 

Oh, and listen to Jim Croce (“Tomorrow’s Gonna Be a Brighter Day”) and Bert Jansch (especially “Running from Home”). Listen to The Grateful Dead (“Eyes of the World,” specifically Hartford, Connecticut, 10/14/1983) and anything Bill Monroe thought up to record (start with “Footprints in the Snow”). 

Aside from love and happiness, everything else is just a detail that doesn’t matter much when all is said and done. Keep the faith in knowing the power of simply shaking it all off and seeing the world for what it is: a landscape of people, places and things all seeking love and understanding, so go forth and radiate those sentiments.

Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all. 


Hot picks

1 The “Queen of Bluegrass,” Rhonda Vincent & The Rage will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin. 

2 The Arthur Miller classic work “The Crucible” will come to life on the big stage at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4-5, 10-12 and 2 p.m. Oct. 6 and 13 at the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville.

3 The 107th annual Cherokee Indian Fair will run Oct. 8-12 at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds.

4 The 11th annual ColorFest will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, in downtown Dillsboro.

5 The First Thursday Old-Time and Bluegrass Series at Western Carolina University will get underway with the Queen Family at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, at the Homebase College Ministry on the WCU campus.

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