I was never a big fan of fishing, and I can shoot a gun, but hunting never did interest me. Working on cars, driving a tractor, and woodshop was never my thing either. People expect a person to excel at these things when they're from the South. The song Free Bird is incredibly too long and honestly dull. Of course, I could never bring myself to admit that around anyone with a mullet or gun rack in their Ford F-150. I spent a few summers working in tobacco, and it was enough to know I never wanted to do it again.
You won't find too many people more proud of their hometown than me. I've remained in Clarksville because it keeps me close to Norman Rockwell. It's easy for people to pick the city apart and focus on what went wrong, and that's human nature. Folks tend to do it to other people all of the time, so why not do it to a whole area full of people at once. It's easy to open The Leaf-Chronicle and get depressed. Most would say the fantasy Norman Rockwell lived in must have died with him, and it sure doesn't exist in this town. Luckily I understood something early in life.
Rockwell could have easily opened his newspaper and told some pretty bleak stories with his paintbrush. He never once pulled his pictures out of thin air; instead, he illustrated the innocence that surrounded him. Norman Rockwell reminds us of the simple choices we have. I can see the good in today, or I can see the bad. It's my choice. It's our choice to see the good in everyone who is in the city of Clarksville. I may not be a fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd, but some of my favorite people rock out to Sweet Home Alabama. I hated working in hot tobacco fields, but it taught me the value of money. Fishing bored me, but it gave me time with my mother and eventually my own children. Often when tragedies happen, it brings us closer together.
All of us fall short at times, and we experience dark moments that haunt us. The tragedy is real and alive in this world, thriving every second of the day in crevices and corners. Ignorance was never bliss; it was just laziness but, hope and faith give us the power to understand horrible truths. Seeing the ugly is easy, while seeing beauty takes work. God never promised to make this simple.
(Hear me tell the story)
I sat in traffic on Riverside Drive, and I was getting impatient, waiting for the light to change and worrying about bills. I couldn't help but think about how expensive gas has gotten. Earlier I had read something on my phone about how some children had to be removed from their home because it was full of drugs and garbage. Then it happened. A blue Jeep pulled up beside me and in the back seat were two small children. I immediately thought of my son and daughter. Instantly my mind reached back 20 years showing me a glimpse of my kids in the back seat of our Jeep with the top down on a beautiful sunny day.
The paintings of Norman Rockwell were never fiction. His work is a picture of hope taken from tiny magical moments in the lives of everyday people like you and me. Maybe we can never live a life without tragedy, illness, or pain. We can, however, appreciate the little moments by bringing life's snapshots into focus.