As a writer I was taught by a lady who I believe, deep down, was one of the best.
Her favorite line was “write from the gut”; the one time I actually got an A+ was when I described this cute, strawberry blonde from our class. To my (and I’m sure her) great consternation, I wrote what I felt (at the moment, anyway).
So, I’ve decided to get back to my roots.
All night I’ve been thinking about why I am proud, and happy, to be a Tennessean.
As many of you know, I am a Freemason. I just attended a lodge meeting in a small town South of where I live. I looked around at the faces. I listened to the stories, and I thought about why I have such an affinity for this place.
The same professor tried to get me to go to New York or D.C. and write, but I was compelled to stay here.
Oh the people “up there” probably refer to us as “flyover, podunck” or some such something, but I really don’t care what they think.
To take it a step further…I really don’t care what the Europeans think either.
It’s not that I dislike either Yankees or the Europeans.
I don’t like it when they call my home “podunck”, or “flyover country”; but I’d bet they don’t like it when I call them “Loyalists to the crown”, “Imperialists”, or “blue bellies” either.
So, enough with the name-calling.
When I look in the faces of the people with whom I share this home of ours in the mountains of East Tennessee, it brings back these memories of cabins, way back in the hills (and even further in the recess of the memories of my youth).
Cold nights when we would have to go traipsing across rounded, river-rock stepping stones to use the “outhouse”; I can still feel the cramps in my bare feet, and what a true relief it was to get back under the covers as quick as possible.
You know, I’m glad I didn’t go to New York. I’m glad I didn’t hook up with some politician and write speeches for him as part of his five-hundred man entourage that follows him around the globe.
I’m glad that I’m still from “here”.
It’s like knowing that I’m still “from” planet earth.
Knowing that I am a “hillbilly” (and damned proud of it), ’cause, you know what being a hillbilly makes me? It makes me a Tennessean.
And being a Tennessean, that means that I am an American too.
But not one of those seeking old-world aristocracy. No sir!
Now, granted, I do love my Scot’s ancestry, and I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t care about that just as much as being a hillbilly (I really do) – but it doesn’t make me any less an American.
My Kings and Queens are these mountains, and the royal court are my hillbilly friends.
I’m glad I’m still grounded here in my own nation, glad that I have not forgotten who I am, and glad that I still know what it is that I stand for.
The question that jackhammers in by heart and soul right now, is “what, exactly, is it that I will NOT stand for?”.
Well, in light of North Korean missiles flying over Japan, of American-born Taliban threatening my nation, cussing me and mine like a dog, of the brothers of these scoundrels now in Gitmo (and soon, apparently, to be walking the streets here in the US of A amongst us and their “sleeper cell” brethren), and even in light of some in the world who wish to try and paint the global economic catastrophe as “all on us” – in light of all this (or perhaps in spite of) – I know who I am, where I come from, and the difference between right and wrong.
Too many talk of grey areas, but there is no grey area in my Mountains.
You wish to survive a cold night up there, you do it by becoming a part of those hills.
You toughen up. You remember the lessons you learned in school, or better, in church (and pay a sharp mind to those you learned out in the woods as well).
You remember the people “up ‘ere in ’em hills” who taught you how to get by the tough times.
And most of all, you remember your own.
Mine are not the people who caused an economic meltdown.
If you listen to people “in the know” – the Europeans were as much to blame for this as are we (and I’d bet, even China – they were new to the investment game and they might have been just a little too “free” with their investments – but then, who wasn’t?).
It’s not about placing blame at this point. It’s about getting back to the roots.
I applaud all nations for being proud of who they are, and all their people proud for the places from which they hail.
My soul literally aches to be back in my hills. I was supposed to go on a hike today. Should’ve taken my dog up there. Oh yeah, and think I can even carry my gun up there now (thank you, gun-toting conservatives who made this possible).
Well, I’ve got an appointment with a pal. I think I just might go with him in a couple of weeks.
“mons montis antiquusum semper liberalis*” (old-time, mountain people are always free).
*liberalis -e [of freedom; worthy of a free man , gentlemanlike, courteous, generous]; adv. liberaliter.