Still dark outside, as it should be at 4:30 a.m. Went to bed early. Slept soundly. Snapped awake a few minutes ago.
The digital thermometer on the shelf above the computer screen receives a wireless signal from a monitor on the back porch. Reads 46.7 degrees â€“ an improvement over the sub-freezing mornings of the past few days. Still cool enough for the metal rod in my right ankle to hurt like hell but a morning walk followed by 30 minutes on the exercise bike should take care of it.
Mornings breed musings. That time of day when darkness recedes into dawn invites reflection. Natural human response. Good for the soul. Also good for someone who writes one of these things called a blog.
Got into a relatively long and deep discussion over lunch Monday about writing, blogs, the Internet and life in general. We talked at CafÃ© del Sol, Frank and Sally Walkerâ€™s coffee shop in Floydâ€™s Winter Sun building, which housed the old shirt factory where my grandmother worked until she retired. Winter Sun is just down Locust Street from the narrow, two-story building that housed The Floyd Press, the weekly newspaper that nurtured my writing career more than four decades ago and now, once again, provides an outlet for my creative juices. That career took me to places most people only read about, allowed me to meet and interview those most only see on TV or read about in books, newspapers or magazines. Sometimes, I wrote what they read and photographed what they saw.
â€œI still donâ€™t understand why you came back,â€ my lunch mate said. â€œIt seems regressive, a step backwards in a life where you have always moved forward.â€
Returning home after 40 years presents many challenges but the most daunting appears to be an inability to adequately explain why â€“ an irony for someone who spent the last four decades in a communication profession.
Perhaps the short, appropriately sarcastic, answer should be a clichÃ©: Been there, done that. The human brain can only experience so much. Even those with a passion for living must pause, reflect and refocus.
â€œI donâ€™tâ€™ buy that,â€ my lunch mate said. â€œIt suggests a world-weariness that I donâ€™t see. Youâ€™re twice as relaxed and much more serene than the man I met here last fall.â€
Yes, I am. Relaxation comes easily here. It flows naturally during pre-dawn walks in the tranquil surroundings of our home. It melts away the stress that afflicts too many of those who remain â€œout there,â€ fighting the daily battles of modern life. It appears in the beauty of a sunrise, the grace of a bird circling lazily on an updraft near a mountain hillside or the multitude of sounds from the many creatures who occupy the back words of our home.
Every week, I meet those who came, or seek to come, here to escape lives that too often seem out of control, governed by insurmountable pressures from those who set unreachable goals. Some find redemption and remain. Others cannot accept the reality of tranquility and return to the urban jungles.
They come to Floyd County to escape. I come because I tried to escape 40 years ago when I packed my belongings into my â€™57 Ford and left a farm that served, at the time, as home.
Mark that one down to the arrogance of youth. Escape suggests permanence. I didnâ€™t escape Floyd County. It escaped me. It took 40 years of living, of experiencing, of striving, of achieving and of failing before I came to understand that one cannot, and should not, try to escape from themselves.
Been there. Done that. Came home. Thatâ€™s it. Nothing deep. Not even philosophical or metaphysical.
Came home where I belonged.