By Sagan Boehm. This story was originally published on OxfordStories.net.
“Hospitality,” “comfort,” “home,” these are just a few of the things I heard when I asked individuals what Mississippi meant to them.
As a young journalist, I took my first steps into the field and led myself forward with positivity and optimism. I wondered out to unfamiliar territory to explore the people of Oxford. My journey consisted of the hopes to find something new and learn something I had not known before.
My first stop brings me to inquire about one of the waitresses at my favorite local coffee shop, Cups. Becca was her name, a young, exhilarated girl who seemed to chock full of personality. I was very eager to interview her, to say the least. I start with asking what her impression of Mississippi is to her and whether or not it has any meaning. It definitely did. She responds with a smile and tells me that she grew up here and that is something she can take pride in.
Further reflection of this conversation brings about the word “kindness” which can only be attributed the good nature the people of Mississippi share.It seems that it is not just an identity statement, but it is a way of living. These people are family, and they know where they come from is a good place.
This first interview brought me to realize there is a world out there that often shares the same attitude about things I can relate to in my life.
The next adventure takes me a bit farther from my residence to challenge my journalistic prowess. Out on some old-beaten path, I find myself lost in the woods, wandering around for the chance to stumble across a potential story. Lo and behold, sitting upon a park bench, a man and his dog. I ask the man if he’d be willing to let me interview him for a short while and he says yes.
“I’ve given a lot of thought about where I would be by the time I reached this age, I’ve seen a lot of things that changed my perspective of the world, and I’ve concluded that it is not that bad. I used to work on an oil rig off the Coast of Mexico; I was married twice, but never had time for either of them to be honest, and raised two sweet baby girls. I think they’re what really gave me the appreciation of other things that I kept looking for. At first, it was all about the money and survival, but now, I tell ya, humility has won me over.”
Wow, that turned me around. I was so struck by this response. All I asked was for him to give me some insight into his life. Following that up, I had to know more. I asked him if he had some advice for me or anyone who might read the written version of his words. He tells me something I will never forget, “Just be happy.”
I need to think about this for a while, does this indicate that life is best maintained in a positive mindset? What does it say about necessary goods versus what is not necessary? What actually does one need to do to accomplish a fulfilling, happy life?
Now, since I did not get the answers to these questions from the man at the park, I guess that means it’s time to venture out again. Though my next destination is still unknown and the stories to be found are untold, I do not have a doubt in my mind that I will find what I’m looking for.
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