The Elusive Middle Ground & the Lost Cove Hike (Metaphor, Anyone?)

One reason I’ve felt a little edgy about all the book tour events as more and more are scheduled, is that I’ve been too busy to enjoy the moment. What have I been busy doing? Earning money the best way I know how: through arts writing, literary critiques, and waitressing. It’s hard to think of letting any of these things go, because they supply me with much-needed income for the travel that lies ahead. It feels like a double-edged sword: If I don’t do these things, I won’t have the money to travel and promote my book; if I want to travel and promote my book, I have to do these things.

But recently, I’ve added book promotions (plus hours of weekly correspondence required to fulfill this) and a relationship to my daily life experience…without taking anything else out of the picture. I’ve also added a good number of hours volunteering with the Carolina Mountain Club. Busy is what I know. It’s what I’m good at. And while it’s not entirely fair to say that I don’t enjoy being busy–because I genuinely like the things I devote my time to–it also isn’t fair to say that it always brings me joy. Never mind that the results of “busy” include social praise, personal rewards, and financial freedom.

I’ve been challenged to find the happy medium. To do what I need to do for my career, my spirit, and the people in my life, while also not busting the bank or dropping the ball, as they say. I have no doubt this is what I want, but I need support in order to achieve it. I have been a go-getter-independent-strong-willed-get-it-done self-employed woman for a while now. A lot of that, I like–it’s who I am in the best possible ways. But even too much of a good thing can be, well, too much. And I do want more freedom and time in my life. In order to do this, I need to feel like trying to achieve this happy medium is good enough, even though I won’t achieve it at every turn. And I need the presence of mind to face each day with an open heart balanced by a good dose of reason. First things first: lighten my load. Second things second: get good sleep. Third things third: hope the money will work itself out. And above all else: keep dreaming big for that book. Dreams are free, after all.

Meantime, enjoy these snapshots of my hike to Lost Cove, a pre-Civil War settlement accessible only by foot until 1905, when the train came. The last settler left in 1957. This is in Yancey County, not too far from where I live, and a good 2 1/2 mile (1500 foot) drop down toward the Nolichucky River Gorge. Amazing:

Black Mountains in far distance, with Celo Knob on the left.
Looking opposite direction from previous photo, down into Nolichucky River Gorge from Yancey toward Mitchell side.
Here’s what used to be at one old house site (above), and here’s what remains (next two below). Same 1937 Chevy truck:
Old cemetery overlooks Shinbone Ridge across the gorge.
This old schoolhouse held 30 students at one time, all raised in an environment that required a rare, all-day walk to the “town” of Poplar to get supplies. Most everything folks needed was grown or made in Lost Cove. Few left for anything.
I liked the old settlement, but my favorite spot was about halfway down, crossing this “hidden creek” that gurgled audibly beneath the
long, wide swath of moss-covered rocks. Evidence of water was everywhere, though it remained out of

  • Mary

    I hear you. I am so struggling with a 40 hour a week job. I've worked for the Man year round since 1989 and while I am glad to have a job, it lately has been sucking my will to live. I see no middle ground right now. ah…choices we make. good wishes.

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