Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, January 15, 2019, 9:53 a.m.
Money can’t buy love. Lack of it damned sure can’t. It has, however, put me in a much better mood.
Last week was the culmination of months of negotiation, ably handled by nephew who has business sense, that began when the mayor asked me if the Hudson M. Dutton who owned a plot of land outside town was I.
Now I have financial security again, fleeting though it may be. As best I know, I have paid off all my debts. Money doesn’t make much difference to me unless I don’t have much. Thus has it hung over me ever since that fateful day when my longtime employee eliminated my job.
Not that I was ever obsessed by it, but it was January 4, 2013.
Please do not respond to the reading of this blog by offering me ways to invest my modest wealth. The aforementioned nephew, to whom I am grateful, is going to handle a good bit of that, too. I’d appreciate it if you don’t do something like burglarize my house. It’s the same unruly dump it was before.
I have already donated sums I consider appropriate to the tax-deductible organizations of my choice. My good fortune has been in the portion of the media in which I do not participate. For about half a year, I have recused myself.
A recreation park will be built on land that was formerly mine. I don’t see myself as any better off. I just have money that has replaced the land, which is not altogether a good thing. I didn’t sell all the land. For instance, I am presently sitting in a broken-down recliner in a house that still belongs to me. I still own the part of the farm that fronts the highway. My mother’s house has some space behind it to provide her some peace and quiet from the construction and racket that is to come.
I wasn’t sour or bitter. I have had enough grip on reality to consider myself the captain of my fate and master of my soul ever since my job of 16-1/2 years ended. I’ve worked as hard as ever, writing books, free-lance stories and otherwise carving out my own tiny pieces of a pie that hasn’t gotten any larger.
For over a week, ever since I pitched a small tantrum over the last ditches and potholes of government deliberation, my mood has improved. I’ve become more charming than usual to waiters, cashiers, athletes, coaches and assorted fellow men and women in general.
One of my favorite movie lines was from Robert Duvall in Tender Mercies: “I don’t trust happiness. Never have. Never will.”
This has been fortified by the fact that I’m reading an oral biography of the late Pat Conroy, My Exaggerated Life. Then there’s one of the lines from my favorite source of wisdom, Tom T. Hall: “I guess that he’s as happy as a thinking man can be.”
Sometimes I envy people who can blithely accept that which they don’t fully understand. I reckon I’m bad to think about it too much.
Enjoy it while you can, friends. A tornado’s liable to come tomorrow.
Life is hard / No matter where you go / It’s a tortured path / Tough row to hoe / When the wheels spin / Got a heavy load / Hoping I can get / To the paved road.
Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.
The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.