At the old pool, Blue Springs State Park

The thing about a journal is that …it should be personal. If not, then it becomes just a form of advertisement for yourself, your business, profession. That’s not writing, not real writing. Nor is it what an artist might have in their sketchbook.

Fair disclaimer this is personal.

Yesterday I spent some time with a friend. I took a few photographs of a place I often went to as a child, Blue Springs State park. Everything there looked smaller than I remember. As a child, places seem huge, and I have fond memories of summers spent in Clio, Alabama, and my aunt would carry my cousins and me there often. I reflected on this couple I watched at the springs earlier. They were interesting because they seemed disconnected from the world. Not concerned with what others thought of them. Married with a pack of kids, they closely supervised. One had a bass tattooed on his back, his wife a gun with her husband’s and her name wrapped around it. If I’m radically honest about how life has meaning, I can conclude a simple life is better.

Francis jumping into 59 degree water, Blue Springs State Park
Francis' million dollar smile
After watching people at the park all afternoon, I went to a place with a history I know, Money’s grill and further reflected. I know the people, the dead ones, those alive, the places it moved around town through the decades. Always the same food, the same menu. I sit at the same table, table “A.”
My favorite table at Money's Grill
This couple with the tattoos and pack of kids, I don’t know them and am speculating, like many in this area have never been north of Atlanta nor south of Panama City beach. Their known world exists in between and is anchored by family. They are less concerned with the insanity of culture swirling around them and focused on things that really matter.

Knowing what I know now if I could change my life, I would do things differently. I would immediately upon finding my woman, preferably not at college but when she turned 16, run away with her to Louisiana and marry her. If I were lucky, it would be a shotgun wedding (age of consent to marry is 16). She would be the only woman I ever kissed, saw nude, or made love to. I would go to one church all my life. Probably eat at the same places and drive the same kind of truck. I would have been a cabinetmaker and created spaces with wood that had generations of children’s feet pitter-patter on them. After work, I would have driven my truck home and called it a day. The highlight would be seeing her waiting for me, knowing I’m about to sit down and have dinner with my children by her side. My wife would be an extension of me and me one of her, our family an extension of us. Our lives would be defined by the home we made and the family we raised.

Modern culture tells us this is wrong, but I beg to differ. It is nice to know what Martin Heidegger said, understand Hegel, ponder Nietzsche …but does it matter? Does knowing what these men thought, about what we all have to experience, having a decent state school education followed by one in the ivy league make any real difference in the meaning of my life? Being radically honest, it does not. It is of little value to understanding why life is frustrating when regardless of what you know or how you live …it will be frustrating at times. Understanding frustration as Jean-Paul Sarte did does not make it any less frustrating. This couple watching their kids play try not to drown themselves probably are happier than I will ever be. The irony of life is they don’t even know it.

The challenge I've learned is to realize the value of those things and cherish them. To distill and focus one’s life on meaning. If your a landscape architect, you have some solace in the fact your creating places like the park at Blue Springs where everyday life gets to happen, so what you do does matter. But not as much as how you live it.

True love tattoo, Blue Springs State Park
Still for the record call me crazy if you wish, if I had my choice, I would have eloped with her at 15 on the eve of her 16th birthday and kept her pregnant for over a decade, and yes her ass would be as wide as a truck. We would not go to gyms, not know what yoga is and shop at the Piggy Wiggly, not Whole Foods. But it wouldn’t have mattered one damn bit, she would still be hot potatoes and somewhere on my body at a secret place of her choosing, would be a heart with her name tattooed in it.

True love and a life well lived are as good as it gets is my conclusion.