Intro about Memories of Appalachia Book:
Memories of Appalachia – No one can write our narrative for us, and no one should. For we are the novelists of ourselves, the composers of our personal melody of life. Daily we add pages to our story or notes to our song. Animals, our only flesh and blood companions in this world, are what they are by Nature’s decree, but we humans are who we become primarily by our personal choices.
This means that of all God’s creatures, only we have the freedom—and therefore the responsibility—to choose how we live our life, and if necessary, to reconsider, to rectify, to repent and rewrite our story if it is sordid or change our tune if our music is discordant.
I take these distinctions to heart in this writing. It is the story of the things I did for the first twenty years of my life and what happened to me as I did them. In a general sense, this is the description of any life, great or small, and mine conforms to the pattern with nothing exceptional to recommend it. Mine is the unremarkable tale of an obscure life in an obscure place.
Yet I cannot dismiss it as insignificant, for that would imply that I am judge and jury of life’s meaning, which I am not, not even of my own life, most of all, my own life.
Within this general pattern, I admit that I write these events also out of curiosity. After I left the lower Appalachian country and its ways, I began a life so different in assumptions and obligations that it is hard to tie it to what followed. This writing is an attempt to make sense of it all, and for reasons that I do not fully understand.
Much of life in those times, to quote the poet Wordsworth, seemed to be about “old, unhappy, far-off things, and battles long ago.” But I would be the last to declare them meaningless now. The older I get, the more I believe that the tiniest flower that fades unseen, the loneliest sparrow that falls unnoticed, register their being on the Creator’s grand scale. All things matter and link in secret ways we do not perceive. This is why wiser minds than mine tell us to walk by faith and not by sight.