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. 

This must be the place: That’s the way it goes, first your money then your clothes

For a moment, I had thought I’d gone crazy.

Standing in the laundromat just a block away from my apartment in Waynesville, I stared at Dryer #4 with a puzzled look on my face. It was 1:45 p.m. on an otherwise normal Tuesday. I walked up to Dryer #4 and put my hand on the door. It was still warm. It had happened: someone stole my laundry. 

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. 

This must be the place: Their music being born of love, children danced night and day

This past weekend at Kickin’ It On The Creek marked my 20th music festival in the last 27 weeks.

This must be the place: When I pass by all the people say, just another guy on the lost highway

Last Sunday morning, at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Route 27 in Wiscasset, Maine, I decided to turn right instead of going straight. 

Instead of the usual drive down U.S. 1 to Interstate 95 and back into civilization, along the highways that lead me to my native North Country of Upstate New York, I chose Route 27 and pushed north into the desolate backwoods of Maine. I had a lot on my mind and preferred the scenic path. No need to rush back to my parents’ house. 

This must be the place: Where will you take me? What will we do?

Pulling off Interstate 87 onto Route 9, the fading sun lowered itself behind the cornfields and open meadows of the Champlain Valley. It has been a while since I’d found myself crossing into the village limits of Rouses Point, New York, a place where I spent the first 18 years of my life.

‘Any Other Place’ provides lessons in living

Literature at its best is a fast-track course in human nature. From Shakespeare we can, if we are attentive, learn more about the human heart than from years of living. The same can be said for reading such writers as Jane Austen, William Faulkner, Marilynne Robinson, John Gardner, and scores of others. We pour ourselves a cup of tea, sit in a chair, open a book, and find ourselves caught up in the emotions and thoughts of strangers who as we read become our familiars. From them we can deepen our knowledge of love and death, of triumph and disaster, of how it feels to wake in the morning with the taste of defeat in our mouth or to slip into sleep at night knowing that we have just met the person we are meant to marry.

She comes with the hummingbirds

Wed., Aug.14, marks the third anniversary of my mom’s passing. During those early weeks and months after she slipped into the great mystery, I wrote a lot about grief. This column and my blog became healing outlets. Kind, compassionate words from friends, readers and even complete strangers held me up during those early days following her death. 

This must be the place: ‘Cause no one knows me like you anymore, as long forgotten as a debt I owe

It’s around midnight, early Tuesday morning. Just sitting here, thinking. Finally getting around to drinking a cold beer on a recliner in an apartment that I’ve barely called home this spring and summer. 

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.