‘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. 

This must be the place: Never for money, always for love

Please allow me to reintroduce myself.

I started this column back around Memorial Day of 2013. So, by the calendar on the wall, that more than six years of a weekly page to talk about whatever it is rolling through my mind at a particular moment — love, politics, sports, music, policy, slice of life musings, etc. 

This must be the place: Living in the present, trying to forget the past

Persistence and gratitude. Those are two key words and concepts in life, personally and professionally. But, for this specific post, I’m referring to the professional aspect of the words. 

This must be the place: And it’s one, two, three, what are we fighting for?

Lately, or more so in recent years, I find the only way I can drown out the constant barrage of noise and division in our country is when I put on my headphones, throw on some music, and let my fingertips flutter away on the laptop keyboard.

This must be the place: Ten years later and all I got was this crappy T-shirt

This past Saturday morning, I awoke in the top bunk of an RV in downtown Sylva. I got up and looked around the space. My friends were still asleep in the other beds. Time to head back to my humble abode in Waynesville. 

This must be the place: Scribbled notebooks and wild typewritten pages for your own joy

Sliding into the booth at Waffle House, I cracked open Larry McMurtry’s novel All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers. Taking a sip of my coffee, I dove into the world of Danny Deck and his life in Houston, Texas, and greater America in the early 1970s. 

The friend everyone needs

Let’s be honest for a minute. Most of us lie to our friends on a fairly regular basis and are, in turn, lied to by them. Furthermore, that’s the way we want it. It is an unwritten contact that we rely on to keep our friendships burnished to a nice sheen, as well as a way for us to continue to perpetuate certain kinds of delusions that make us feel more comfortable in various areas of our lives.

This must be the place: Home is where we wanna grow

Crossing the threshold of Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack in West Asheville recently, I scanned the space looking for my old friend, Heather. And there she was, sitting on the patio, sipping a beer and looking over the menu deciding how hot she was willing to order her chicken tenders. 

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