This isn’t going to be pretty.

The good thing is, though, it doesn’t have to be.

Usually when I sit down to write, I think of themes. I think of vocabulary. I think of motifs. I think of ledes and final thoughts. It’s like an art.

This, though, isn’t that kind of piece.


I enjoy words.

Ever since I was a boy, I’ve had a thing for words. The way Chip Cary said “Rafael Furcal at the plate for the Bravos.” The way Truman Capote could keep me on the edge of my seat. The way Seth Avett sounded over the car speakers. Words were powerful.

So for obvious reasons, I love(d) quotes.

There seems to be a quote, a passage, or a verse for every moment. There’s just something beautiful knowing that someone else has been there and can relate to you.

Sometimes you need more than a pat on the back, or an “it’s going to be OK.” Sometimes you need words for a drive home on a beautiful day with the windows down. Sometimes you need to be restored. Sometimes you need advice.

For me, this comes through words.

Whether it’s a line from a Bradbury short story, a lyric from a Dylan song, or an illustrious quote from the parable of the prodigal son, there’s always been something there for me.

And now, after making it through 20 years, I reflected on the words that meant the most to me. Believe it or not, it wasn’t a lyric. It wasn’t a line from one of my dog-eared books. It wasn’t even a verse from a Gospel.

The words, in this case, advice, that stuck out the most to me, came from the mouths of two men. Two men who collectively mean more to me than nearly anything in this world, save my sweet mama. My dad and my late grandfather.


The first, from my dad, came my senior year of high school. My English teacher asked parents to write their son or daughter a brief letter with advice for the future as we took on the brave new world ahead of us.

My dad, a former journalist and one helluva writer, chose not to impart sophisticated prose on me. Nor did he chose to be overbearing, complex, or didactic (like I just was, oops).

He was simple. He was honest. He cut to my core.

“Always work hard. Always go to class. Always love your mom. Always pray to God. Always pursue your dream. Always chase the girl. Always save for a rainy day. Always pull for the Braves. Always say thank you. Always help others. Always have fun. And always be the man granddaddy would brag on.”

I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t embarrass myself that day in front of my class. I didn’t even make it halfway through the letter before I was running out of the classroom, tear-stained glasses in one hand, the other clinging to my eyes.

Nothing has stayed with me more. That letter has moved around from my Bible to my car to my back pocket on certain, special days to my desk to above my bed. But it has stayed with me.

The second set of words came from my granddad.


Just a few weeks before he died, I was lying with him in his bed after he had just knocked out a bowl of ice cream in his recliner. A man known for his incredible story telling, artful dinner time conversation, and wit, chose once again not to impart wisdom on me in some convoluted manner. He asked a question. A question that I have asked myself every morning since that night.

“What’s pushing you?”

That’s it.

“What’s pushing you?”

I expected a story symbolizing how to live life right or a witty one-liner. Instead, I got a question. The question as far as I’m concerned.

“What’s pushing you?”


20 years of reading books, listening to songs, and scribbling words down for fun. Nothing has stuck with me like what those guys said.

I told you this wouldn’t be pretty.

I have no deeper meaning or alter call. I just have some words.

Keep reading books. Keep listening to records. Keep writing your heart out. But every now and then, look around. Treasure life and love more.




4 thoughts on “-20-

  1. I love the way you write! You don’t have to stop and think about what you are reading, it just flows. You do have a great loving family. Thanks for sharing.

    Mrs. Head


  2. That was beautiful and a wonderful “piece of art”!!! Beautiful story from good people!!! Thank you for sharing!!
    Mrs. Nickle


  3. Pingback: -365- – David Allen, Jr.

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