Rode again today by public transportation to Winston-Salem, so grateful somebody else was driving, I'd have been happy if the van's interior smelled of beer and puke, which, thankfully, it did not. It had a pleasant aroma, almost a new car scent. It tells the degree the drivers keep the vans immaculately clean. It also tells on management. The service is that well managed. I see it in the people working there, their efficiency and communication. The drivers of the recent four trips have been good people, good drivers, friendly people I felt I knew as a friend by the time we returned. I used to be uncomfortable alone with somebody I did not know for an extended time. Possibly, in that time the ego was in a turmoil wanting to make a good impression, not say the wrong thing. That was awhile ago. Since then, much has changed. I think it had something to do with accepting self as is, not as I might want self to appear. Maybe it had something to do with fear of others, fear of judgment, growing up in a hyper-judgmental environment. Maybe I'm getting close to home.
Living in the mountains went a long ways toward healing that affliction. I live in a world of people I care about who care about me. It's what I call community. It took living among the mountain people, people I fell in love with as a people, as a culture, individuals in the culture. Some of the most human human beings I've known have been here in these hills. I emphasize the human as allowing their own humanity, the full range of it. Judged from the outside by Yankees, the hill people don't have much to offer. Seen from the inside, from inside the culture, from knowing the lives of the people around me, I see people who exemplify what I consider the highest human qualities in their everyday lives. You have to know the people well to see what they have to offer. They don't brag on themselves, they don't put themselves first. First thing that comes to mind I can say of the mountain people is grace. They have a grace that can only be seen from the inside. It is closed to the outside. I find I breathe the freest in the company of mountain people. I feel most comfortable with the mountain people I know, the wide variety of them, given that each one is individual who he or she is. Getting acquainted with somebody new from here is fun, find out who they're related to, who they know that I know, where they grew up, went to church. By the time our first conversation is over, we know each other.
I don't mean to imply they are perfect people with halos. They are human beings who live in a world of other human beings. Inside the culture, everyone is treated with respect and regards others around them with respect. Trust is especially important among the people of these hills. Trust is important to me. I learned it here. It took thirty-five years for Whitehead community to trust me, and I'm glad it took so long. The trust would be empty otherwise. I never learned much about trust in youth, living in a world where fickle was the norm. Perhaps this could be behind why trust is so important in the latter half of the life. It has a great deal to do with why I value certain people that other people look askance at. I see someone who understands trust, someone I know I could trust to the grave. For having such trust given to me, I feel it necessary to give such trust in turn. The people with trust between them never talk about the other behind their back. It's an unspoken code. Personally, this trust that takes years to earn gives life a richness like the rich quality of a chocolate cake.
I like to hear people tell their stories, like on the radio show, This American Life, though in person, hearing it from the source. Sometimes, like today, I talk just to keep the other talking, because I like hearing their stories so much. They tell me who they are in their stories and I tell who I am in my stories. On the drive to Winston-Salem and back, we carried on a spontaneous back-and-forth story-telling festival of experiences, people we've known. I've learned from experience to avoid politics and religion as subjects for conversation. Too predictable, both based in ill-informed opinions. I'd rather talk about our lives, what we've observed. In the Age of hate radio and television, I know better than to let a man my age, more or less, get going on politics. The white men of my generation have been a disappointment, now that we're the old people. When I was younger, I thought the older people the most interesting. Now that I'm older, I see the younger people the most interesting. I like to watch kids play. The spontaneous appeals to me now more than ever.