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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



     Where do you think you will be in ten years? Crazy question perhaps? Has anyone who has ever been asked this question ever get close to answering it with a guess that is pretty close?

     Ten years ago this week, I sat down with someone I barely knew in a coffee shop in Stuart as we commiserated her loss of a job at a local paper. By the end of a carafe of coffee and the better part of a coconut cream pie an idea was launched in my head. Twenty-Four hours later a mock up of a front page of a newspaper was finished, and in less than two days the first issue of the West Central Valley Voice was printed.

     It is somewhat hard to believe that it has been ten years since that first issue appeared, and although the Voice lasted only three years, it is without a doubt the three years of my life that I truly enjoyed the most. From the stories that I covered to the ability to meet new and interesting people in the community, to being able to bring the corporate holders of other local papers back into the idea of what a small town paper should really be, with each failure and success of that little newspaper I learned a great deal about the placed I live and about myself as well.

      Ten years worth of weekly columns, either online or with newspapers in the area, seems like a daunting task when one looks at it from the starting line, but now that I’m here it only seems like a small drop in a bucket of where life has taken me. For the most part I’ve always tried to make my column something more akin to a conversation than a column. It is as though you have pulled in the driveway of my small farmhouse and been invited to come sit on the porch with me and chat about the world around us.

     Oh sure, there have been periods where I look back and read old columns and wonder to myself what sort of medication was I on, but there are others that stand out, reminding me that in every nook and cranny of this area, there are stories to be shared. From the heartfelt tributes to those who have made growing up in these communities something special, to the wacky and sometimes strangely addictive random thoughts, I hope that when I apply ink to paper that the reader takes a moment to reflect and share their thoughts with others.

     It isn’t always easy, for there are times, when I guard details of stories that really need to be shared as though they are a cold war secret, and there are other times when I worry about sharing too much of who I am and where I have been with you. In the end though, I hope that along the way you have laughed with me, and cried with me, and not been afraid to find your own voice and to speak up about the things that are dear to you. It is my sincerest hope that amongst the columns you have been challenged from time to time to rethink how you view a subject, and at others I hope that I have been able to give a voice to those who struggle silently in shame, although in reality their struggle is one many of us share.

     Where will I be in ten years from now? It certainly is hard to say. I don’t have a magic 8 ball that will give me that answer. If I have learned nothing these past ten years though, it has been to prepare best you can for the unexpected, and choose the path you go down carefully. Most of all live life every day, for there will come a time when words no longer get said, where faces from your present only become a sad distant memory, and in the end the real joy in it all comes from surviving the journey.

     See you next week….remember, we’re all in this together.