I’m just back from vacation in Tennessee. Home of The Smoky Mountains, The Grand Ole Opry, and Jack Daniels whiskey, Tennessee is home also of my son, Nathan. This was a kick-back, do-nothing-and-whatever trip, a time simply to BE with one I love.
It turned out to be a surprising scrapbook time for me, a time to marvel over the winding course of the river of my life. Across my adult life Tennessee leaves a large mark. I went there to college as a 17 year-old Missouri kid right out of high school. I lived in Tennessee three different times as an adult across different decades in two different careers. My first church was in Memphis in the mid-1960s, my fifth and largest church was in Nashville in the early 1980s. Finally, the third Tennessee residency took me from Kentucky to east Tennessee in the early 1990s as college professor of Communication Arts. A substantial heart-tie to Tennessee is the fact it was Gatlinburg, TN., where Charlotte and I got married in 1984, while I was at the University of Kentucky, living in Lexington — married in a tiny Gatlinburg wedding chapel, more like Las Vegas or Reno, Nevada, than Tennessee.
Tennessee, I see in retrospect, has figured large in the winding path of my life. I left Tennessee for Albuquerque, NM., in 1995, left academia and campus life for an entrepreneur’s dream of creating my own magazine, left classroom teaching of students how to speak and write to practice the craft. The old saw says, “Those who can’t, teach; those who can, do.” I laugh at myself for leaving tenure and job security to “go to the dogs” — to the celebration of Scottish Terrier companionship in Great Scots Magazine!
So my life’s round-about path to Scottish Terriers and Great Scots Magazine, in and out of Tennessee by way of Iowa and Scotland and Mississippi and Kentucky, was captured whimsically by Southwest Airlines in the return flight home which sent us from Nashville to Baltimore on the way to Albuquerque!
William Shakespeare said:
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts … “
Looking back at my life recognizing how little of it I controlled yet how even the smallest pieces contribute to a coherent whole leading to what Paulo Coelho calls “Personal Legend”, I see Shakespeare’s “stage” is more like Nashville’s “Grand Ole Opry” than New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House — real life is not the perfection of grand opera, but the homemade rusticity of “opry”. And no one is a ‘professional’ on the stage of Life; we’re amateurs because no one has lived our life before. We’re hillbilly’s on the world stage, would-be sophisticates playing like we’re “on top of things”, singing our song as best we can, but with nasal twang of homegrown roots, flaws and insecurities.
That’s not a bad thing. That’s the human predicament, our individual and collective ‘Grand Ole Opry’ . . . and it’s all GOOD.
Joseph Harvill, Scottiephile