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Friday, June 24, 2011


by robert ryman

Three things to do last night. Could only do one. Dori Freeman was singing at the Front Porch Gallery in Woodlawn, which I wanted to go to as the number one priority. Selma was having a wine tasting I wanted to go to. Alleghany Planning Committee was having a dinner and a meeting. Also, this week I can't afford the $14 it costs for gas to go to Woodlawn and back, alas, a real consideration. I'm out of money, so I needed the dinner. Thought I could go to the meeting first hour, then on to Woodlawn, but it didn't work out like that. I realized that my true obligation is with APC. They are my team. We had our meeting Friday night because Saturday we are working Alleghany Cares to raise some funds toward our projects for helping people in need of help. 8 Saturday morning at the Pines for breakfast, then to Alleghany Cares at 9 to be ready to open the store at 10. Alleghany Cares is a thrift store some people call the Sparta Walmart. All the money goes to charities. Also to pay staff and expenses of a business.

I wanted to get some pictures and videos of Dori, but it wasn't to be. I wanted to visit with friends at Selma's wine tasting, but it wasn't to be either. I did best staying with my friends at APC. These are the people I'm the most comfortable among. I'm comfortable among the friends at Woodlawn, too. And comfortable among the crowd at Selma's wine tastings. It was a difficult decision to make, but I made the right one. I feel like the Alleghany Planning Committee people are my church. In my own personal belief system, it is the role of the Christian churches to help out the poor. But they don't. Some do, but not the churches I like to go to. I do appreciate the old-time way of church where worship is the only thing church is about. I'm with that. But I'm also with helping out people who need help. The people in APC are all Christian people, by which I mean people on the spiritual path who integrate their spiritual beliefs of what's important into their everyday lives. That's not to say other people don't. Only to say the people of APC do.

Alleghany Planning Committee and Hospice are my only involvements in Sparta now. They are the only -- organization doesn't feel like the right word, but it's all I can think of -- organizations in town that I feel meet the criteria of what I want to do in an active, organized way with others. It's my own personal assessment that there is plenty of new, plenty of entertainment, plenty of meetings for the sake of meetings. The state of the "world" now I believe is harmful to human health in every respect, from spiritually, mentally, emotionally to physically. There are countless casualties overlooked by nearly everyone, especially in America where poverty equals leprosy. What can I do to make my world a better place? The only answer I can come to that rings my truth center is helping people having a rough time of it. Both APC and Hospice are about helping people who need help. Neither one takes a great deal of time, but they are where I feel I owe my allegiance.

I half dread the day at Alleghany Cares. We of APC will be working the store. The deal is we bring in a bunch of stuff to be sold and the staff puts it out for sale. We work the store a Saturday and whatever money comes in for the day we get toward our projects, such as helping people with electric bills year round and heating bills in winter. We give scholarships to deserving kids from families that can't help them financially. The Hillbilly Show in October is our big fund raiser of the year. We all get together to make fools of ourselves on stage to make the audience laugh. None of us are comedians, so we act stupid and it's funny. I think of it as Dada theater. Another thing I like about APC is it's mountain people helping mountain people. It's working from the heart instead of the mind. Though I dread the work all day, I know that once it starts it will be a good day all the way along. I'll take camera and get some pictures and tell you about it. I've learned over and over that when I go into something dreading it, the experience turns out to be a good time.

The worst news of the day, or possibly the best, depending on how you look at it, Eldon Edwards died Monday. I say "best' as in liberated from the body and all its attachments. All week long Eldon has been in my mind, aiming every day to go see him the next day. He's been fading for some time and I felt like he was getting close. I'd have gone to the funeral if I'd known. Eldon is one of the people I've looked up to for many years. A true human being. The only Republican I've ever voted for. And I voted for Eldon (County Commissioner 2 terms) with conviction. Mountain Republicans of his generation are not Reagan Republican lemmings. Eldon was the only Commissioner I ever heard of, before or since, who went around to all county employees once a month and talked with them about how they're getting along, what they need, what he can do to help their given needs on the job. County employees work "for" the Commissioners, but have no access to them. The Commissioners pay their employees no mind, whatsoever, like they're not there.

Eldon is someone I've respected as I have Jr Maxwell, Mildred Torney, Paul Reeves, Agnes Joines, Tom Pruitt, Millard Pruitt, Bessie Brooks, Faye Wagoner, Lorne Campbell, Donna Shumate, Jim Rhodes and a few others whose names don't come to mind right now. These are people I've felt blessed for the opportunity to know. I didn't know Eldon very well, but we shared a love for the mountain people, the mountain ways, mountain music, the mountains. When we talked, we communicated. Often I remember some wisdom passed to me from DeWitt Hanes back around 1988, to have done something is the same as doing it now. This is what I tell myself when I lose a friend or someone I respect, a pet, all forms of loss. I miss Jr Maxwell every day and remind myself to have known him is the same as knowing him now. It's true, can only be fathomed by the heart, not the mind. To try to get it by mind would be about the same as working out the mental geometry of hitting a golf ball. When I hold Caterpillar I miss TarBaby and tell myself that because I knew TarBaby, I still know TarBaby. Because I knew Tapo, I still know her. Because I knew all my friends who have passed through the veil, I still know them. They lived in my memory while I knew them in person. They live in my memory now. How I knew them continues.


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