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Beginnings are the sweetest. An innocence permeates the beginnings of friendships, professions and professions of love, an innocence that takes the heart to a different place. I have stayed in that place often enough and long enough to know its magic.
We live better; we love better; we think better; we are better in the beginning.
Some beginnings are firsts and other times, we begin again. But all beginnings require courage, because they are filled with risk.
And so it is with my writings about growing up in Hardin County, places around the world in which I like to wake up, people who have made a difference in my life and ideas I have thought about and written about time after time. I am taking a risk.
In recent years, I have taken a few risks, in spite of fears of failure and the unknown, because I am very aware that life is short and should be lived. S.W. Merton describes it as “a life that goes all the way.”
Trying everything from snorkeling and surfing to eating blood sausage became conscious decisions to do instead of watch — even though I only stuck my head under shallow water, floated mere yards from shore on a surfboard, and have decided to leave some firsts to my children who love dipping into wasabi as much as I love sopping biscuits in pools of red-eye gravy in a mound of mashed potatoes. Guess you can take the girl out of the country, but … well, you know.
I will not pretend I am anything other than a fried potatoes, pinto beans with country ham and cornbread kind of southerner. I shamelessly cook or order the same meals over and over again with no apology for being so predictable. But I am no longer afraid to try new foods and I am not afraid to read words that made sense to me years ago, but are begging me now to re-evaluate, reword or delete.
I am a little afraid to share my discoveries, but I have found that even though going around fears can work for a while, more often than not, the things I avoid always seem to come back to bite me.
And so I am going to stop apologizing for the syrupy nature of my writing and accept I might be quite full of nonsense. I am going to continue to write like rain that pauses to gather strength during bursts of fury and potency and passion, but think like a slow, gentle rain that soaks into the soil instead of running off, only to collect in a low place before evaporating.
I also am going to continue to mark one thing and then another off my list of things to begin before I die. But because the fun of planning and the joy of dreaming can be almost as good as the doing, maybe there aren’t all that many things to begin after all.
P.S. If I had my way, Cyndi Lauper would have sung while you read this column. My goal in this “Time After Time” series is that the writing about places, paths, people and ideas has the same poignancy as one of my favorite songs from the ’80s, with new perceptions about previous writings and a change of mind or heart every now and then.
Jan Patterson Selvitelle, a native of Sonora, is a teacher for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox Community Schools and can be reached at email@example.com.