This is me on the Appalachian Trail about thirty years ago. Check out those socks! I still ramble around, but I wear better socks these days!
Youth condemns. Maturity condones. ~Amy Lowell
I am embarrassed to admit that maturity of mind and spirit has been a long time coming for me. I fear that had I never moved away from where I grew up that I may not have ever reached a full appreciation and respect for a place and the people who gave me roots to call home and morals to guide me along my journey. Maybe, I owe my heart and soul to Southern hospitality.
I moved away thinking the world had bigger and better things waiting for me. And now I find the most important things are right where I left them. Maybe I thought somehow I’d become sophisticated by letting go of my country upbringing…that gives me a laugh now! I’ve found sophistication isn’t bought in stores or handed down like antiques and jewels. I’ve found that class doesn’t come in a brand name nor does a name give you a brand. I say this because there are many who were fortunate to have a respectable name passed down to them, but do not honor it. Class is born and bred. Class comes from grace and ethics, or simply from living well. I am fortunate to come from a place and from people that practice love, respect, and honesty. And in all honesty, it took me getting out in the world to realize how much I appreciate these values.
I have found that there are too many complacent people in this world. They just don’t care. I’ve been raised to stand up for what I believe in. The problem is that so many people have no idea what they believe in. I would much rather associate with someone passionate about their beliefs even if they differ from mine than someone who has no belief system. The people that I have found to be complacent are self absorbed. They’re people who care more about what the world can give them rather than what they have to offer to those around them. It’s better to stand for something than nothing at all. It shows you care about the world around you.
I’ve always had a wandering soul with a penchant for home. While I have made my home in another part of the state. I find that the part I come from holds some of the most natural beauty I’ve ever seen. I’ve always loved nature. I hiked when I was young. However, I don’t think I really breathed in the sacredness of it all. I think it has taken me getting away from it and being reintroduced to really grasp the concept of how fortunate I am.
I recently had the opportunity to connect with relatives I hadn’t seen in a long time. I was overwhelmed by the fragility of life. It comes and goes so quickly. I was saddened to see how the health of some has declined and age has taken it’s toll on others. Regardless of relationships or differences of opinions or philosophies of life, these people are the backbone of my life. These are the people who helped form my first impressions of the world around me. We have all drifted through time to wherever our lives have taken us.
I am privileged to have grown up with a sense of community. Or course, I didn’t realize it at the time. I just thought everyone was in everyone else’s business. Maybe a sense of community is a part of small town living. I know that living in a city, I only feel a sense of community in my own neighborhood or in certain organizations. I always thought I could never return to live where I grew up. I thought I’d never be accepted back into the fold. I see now that was just my perception. I’ve learned that community is much like family. They are a support team. And our lives are richer for the involvement.
Through my journey over a track of the Appalachian Trail, I reflected on where time has taken me in relationship to places and people. They have taught me a lot throughout my life. I have no regrets about where my life is now, and I truly believe that had I not gone off I would have taken both the place and the people for granted. It has taken a degree of separation in time and distance to fully grasp an appreciation for all that has been a part of my life. I think age has definitely given me a clearer perception. I am sincerely grateful to have come from such a place of beauty and love. I appreciate the roots and the wings. So, maybe I’m saying that even though I’ve flown away, my heart remains. And if someday I do return, I hope it is a much wiser and gracious me than the one that left.
The years teach much which the days never knew. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson