Chores and book writing took a break this afternoon. The run/walk i planned has been moved until later unless i ditch the whole thing. So lots of thoughts floating around reminiscing about what was when.
Today, as i often do, i marvel at how i ended up writing so much. Don’t know why. Don’t even know where it came from. i do know that last gig as a journalist was a fitting closure to one phase. It could have been my last writing kick. But as i wrote in my last column for the Lebanon Democrat., it wasn’t my last writing, and i noted such in my final column. If it had not been for this burning drive i have to write this book i continue to pursue and i hadn’t stumbled on these things called “blogs,” a title i still do not like, it might have ended. But it didn’t.
It was fitting my time at the Democrat ended when it did. 500 columns, not counting several years of the business leadership column, just shy of ten years for my op-ed weekly. Sadly, new ownership took over my newspaper, the one that was truly “local” when i grew up, like the publisher and editor living right across the street local.
This was not the last column but it was one near the end, perhaps the penultimate one (i’m too lazy to look it up now).
It was a great run.
Notes from the Southwest Corner: “World enough, and time”
SAN DIEGO – Second thoughts keep coming to me as we near the end of this gig called “Notes from the Southwest Corner.”
Amidst those thoughts is the daunting task of how to close these columns with grace. In one way, my recent respiratory problems gave me time to think about that when these words kept popping into my brain: “World Enough, and Time,” seeming to reflect the end of my era as a column writer.
“World enough, and time” was written by Andrew Marvel around the mid 1650s in poem “357. To His Coy Mistress.” It is considered the finest of Marvell’s poems and “possibly the best carpe diem poem in English.” In case you, like me need to look that up, “carpe diem,” Latin for “seize the day,” in its current use is defined as “used to urge someone to make the most of the present time and give little thought to the future.” It seems to fit.
In the poem, Marvell’s words also suggest how I feel about this upcoming closure: “But at my back I always hear / Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near; / And yonder all before us lie / Deserts of vast eternity…” Yes, that’s close. Somewhere around my 73rd birthday in January, I decided the grind, albeit a tiny grind by most standards, of putting out a weekly column was producing columns of a quality not up to my standards.
As I have for most of my life, I remain a little defiant, resistant to forces even though some inevitable like time and distance. Part of me wishes to defy them, to keep on like Marvel “Through the iron gates of life: / Thus, though we cannot make our sun / Stand still, yet we will make him run.
But now, there is not world enough and time. This is coming to an end. Today I go back to the real roots of my writing and extolling those who sparked my real interest. It is time for me to move on make that old sun run.
My real writing began when I recognized I really wasn’t going to be the next Roy Rogers, Clifton Tribble, Johnny “The Drum” Major,” Doak Walker, Don Hoak, Roberto Clemente, or even Nellie Fox. That’s when JB Leftwich channeled my sports enthusiasm into print. Prior to that, J. Bill Frame had shown me support and understanding and much more so, the nobility of putting ink on paper.
At Castle Heights, Lindsey Donnell, Paul Wooten, and Tom Harris among others whetted my appetite for literature and writing. JB used his influence to land me a job at “The Nashville Banner” under Fred Russell, a three-year experience impacting the rest of my life. My sports writing idol Russell took me under his wing and gave me hope sports journalism just might work.
At Middle Tennessee, Richard Peck and Bill Holland allowed me to be creative within the bounds of academic requirements. Bill Holland was not only an inspiration but became a close friend. My writing for Holland and Peck remain my best efforts.
John B. Johnson, a close Vanderbilt friend and ground breaking newspaper journalist gave me the opportunity to pursue my dreams as his sports editor at “The Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times.” Family responsibilities ended the dream, but I will always be indebted to “Yanch” for giving me the chance.
In 2007, Amelia Morrison Hipps took a chance on an out-of-town columnist, and this column began. Amelia, a newshound with a strict adherence to the stylebook, was my champion throughout her tenure. We have had and continue to have a terrific relationship.
Then Jared Felkins and I became co-conspirators in the realm of local newspapers. Being in the Southwest corner, I do not know if Lebanon fully appreciates what they have. Jared focuses on bringing you the most interesting and pertinent local news. Jared, in short, is a champ in local journalism.
I’m sure I have omitted a number of people who have supported me on my journalism journey. I apologize for the oversight.
The journey is not over. I will continue to write. Some of it may show up here. Nor will my, what do I call it, love of Lebanon fade away. I will continue to write of Lebanon.
Figure 1 J. Bill Frame, Fred Russell, and “Coach” JB Leftwich