Yellow blazes and Skip-Bo

It’s been a somber few days since the world learned of the death of Kobe Bryant, his teenage daughter, Gianna, and the seven other passengers on that helicopter in Calabassas, California. Hearing of the tragedy and reading the coverage made me realize that mortality stops for no one, not even a sports hero as big as Kobe.

This must be the place: I never saw the end of the tunnel, I only saw myself running out of one

For my generation, Kobe Bryant was the torchbearer and living link between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. He was basketball in the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

Kobe was also a figure who genuinely transcended the sport, one who rose to the top of the mountain of pop culture and media celebrity, something that came to fruition just as the internet age and social media became an integral part of our daily lives. 

Becoming mindful in a chaotic world

Last October, I turned 40. It made me evaluate where I was physically, emotionally and personally. About a month after this pivotal birthday, I had my wellness visit at the doctor. I be-bopped in, assuming labs and vitals would be just fine like they always are, but a couple days after the visit, I received a call saying my iron, B12 and hemoglobin levels were all significantly below normal. My mom passed away from a blood cancer so issues with blood and hemoglobin terrify me. 

This must be the place: Life being what it is

Stepping out of my truck, I stretched my legs and proceeded to throw on my running clothes. It was nearing sunset when I locked the vehicle and jumped onto a nearby hiking trail just off U.S. 19 in Summersville, West Virginia. 

This must be the place: Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road

It was around midnight when I crossed the Mason-Dixon Line. With Maryland now in the rearview mirror, I pushed into rural depths of south central Pennsylvania. It was Christmas Eve and the temperatures had dropped to around freezing, a far cry from the sunshine felt earlier that day in Western North Carolina.

This must be the place: Roads that we abandon and others that we take

As the decade comes to a close, I sip this cup o’joe in a quiet coffee shop in a small town in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I think of December 2009 and how incredibly different life was. 

At 24 years old, the economy had tanked a year earlier. Living back in my native Upstate New York (in my parent’s farmhouse), I had left the west in 2008 following my first journalism gig at a tiny paper in Eastern Idaho. 

This must be the place: And what it all comes down to, is that everything’s gonna be fine

My eyelids fluttered open and it took me a couple moments to realize that I was in my apartment and it was Thanksgiving morning. After a wild, raucous Thanksgiving Eve bouncing through the fine establishments of downtown Waynesville, it was time to dust myself off and be ready for the impending dinner.

This must be the place: No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language and knowledge

When I was a kid, my parents would talk to anybody. Literally anybody. Though my little sister was somewhat embarrassed by it, I was completely fascinated. 

Learning to relish the meaningful moments

As fall draws to a close, and the leaves turn brown to pile up on the sidewalk instead of in the trees, the cycles existing all around us become more obvious, more visible. 

My personal stressors in life are those everyone young person faces: finding employment, making enough money, trying to figure out what I will do with my life. A few nights ago, I had a dream about my grandmother, my father’s mother. She was young again in my dream (and alive) and had long, beautiful, curling blonde hair. The rest of the dream is a blur, but I remember being in awe of her beauty. As I woke up, I relished the opportunity to have been with her for a few moments. 

This must be the place: Drifting back down to earth at the peak of beauty

It was right around 3 p.m. when I knew I had to escape.

Sitting in the Panacea Coffeehouse in the Frog Level District of Waynesville on Monday afternoon, I had finished my writing for the day. I had concluded all my emails, correspondences and text messages, too. I just wanted to get away, even if but for a moment, from my damn smart phone and laptop in an era of Wi-Fi and unlimited data plans. 

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