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Mack Williams column: Write it down

Since beginning my column of memories and present impressions in the Post, I have had conversations with many old Granite Quarry School and East Rowan classmates, as well as former neighbors who’ve said, “Keep on writing!” Even the one whom I considered to be the neighborhood bully (for many years now, a fine gentleman) said the same.

I have many memories left, with future impressions to come (just as I have many songs left to sing), so as long as the Post and “life” will have me, I’ll keep on.

I’d like to pause just now (though not really a pause, is it?) to take this opportunity to encourage others to write down their memories and feelings, for each skull and heart, respectively, contains a multitude.

Each skull is like a crystal (no deliberate “Indiana Jones” analogy intended).

Just as crystals refract light in different directions, so different minds have their own particular way of viewing the world. When my niece, Brandon, put a picture of her newborn son, Asher (my great-nephew) on Facebook, I commented something to the effect: “Here is another unique way of looking at the world.”

There are currently about 7.3 billion unique, human ways of looking at the world, not counting the wild members of the Animal Kingdom, plus endearing “looks” from cats and dogs posted on Facebook. (I left out insects, with their highly-simplistic Weltanschauung.)

One only has to visit such Facebook sites as: “You might be from Rowan County, N.C. if …” or “You might be from Salisbury, N.C. if …” or Granite Quarry, China Grove, Rockwell, etc. in order to see things recalled by others which he has forgotten, or never knew of in the first place, since different people focus on different things in their environment.

It’s like the story, “The Blind men and the Elephant,” each sightless man touching a different part of the elephant’s body (head, trunk, ear, tail, leg, etc.) declaring it to be the definition of the whole, instead of uniting their differing impressions into one creature.

Each of us, more than just an elephant part, is “his own elephant,” due to our immense complexity. Both we and they have made many journeys in our lives; and since the elephant’s memory is renowned, this analogy holds up.

I will now plot my physical lifetime journey by placing the figure of an elephant over a map of North Carolina.

First off, and spiritually speaking too, this “64-year-old elephant’s” columnar legs and heart lie over Salisbury-Rowan and the Piedmont, head facing westward, trunk having now and then stretched and “trumpeted” over North Wilkesboro, Statesville, Tweetsie, Grandfather Mountain, Linville Caverns, Lutheridge, with an exhalation of “trunk-breath” reaching Knoxville’s World’s Fair in 1983. (I originally said “snorted,” but decided to change it to “trumpeted,” since “snorted” is fraught with different connotations. And besides, unlike some others in the 1960s and ’70s, I never got further than “moonshine,” and that was at Appalachian.)

“My” elephant’s northward-facing ear has “flapped” toward Washington, Baltimore, rested for 34 years in Yanceyville, now resting in Danville, Virginia since 2008, while its southern-facing ear has “flapped” toward South Carolina and Orlando, Florida.

The eastward-facing tail has traveled the least, having only “swatted” as far as Holden Beach and Emerald Isle.

Hopefully, the particular “elephant” here represented has many years of “trumpeting,” “flapping,” and “swatting” left.

Just as elephants have memories engendered by the places where they’ve been; so does this one, and so does each of you.

Elephants have neither the dexterity nor digits with which to write, but you do!

Don’t use the excuse of age; I didn’t start writing about these things until 2009 (age 58).

So write it down, whether it be in book, newspaper column, diary, or send it in letters or e-mails to family and friends.

Genealogy is fine, but often limited to the basics of just a few letters and numbers on certificates of birth, death, and upon gravestones.

If you decide to leave such written record of your lifetime events and feelings, then you might as well also leave a posthumous instruction for the monument company. Ask them to carve upon your tombstone that guiding phrase often attached to the title of an online newspaper article: “Read more.”

This will let your “graveside reader” know, that besides paltry stone letters and numbers, much more lies elsewhere!

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