“I am extremely proud of my humble beginnings. I make it my mission to live up to and hopefully exceed the expectations of every single person who sacrificed blood, sweat and tears to set me on the right path. These basic, albeit critical, small country town principles enriched my life in ways affluence or prominent social standing could not. Fundamental, unpretentious lessons that set the stage for how I would comport myself every day in an overly complicated world. Today the duality of my character is obvious: beneath the surface of a strong willed, honorable, hard working family man and altruist beats the simple heart of a Good Ol’ Country Boy from East Texas”. Life Is Not Complicated, You Are: Good Ol’ Country Boy
This past weekend was one for the books (No pun intended)! After months of planning, preliminary book sales and local radio, print and television interviews, I headed to my hometown of Jacksonville for a book-signing at the Jacksonville Public Library. While this may seem like it was just par for the course, I can assure you, the experience transcended the typical literary obligation I have grown accustomed to.
I appreciate every opportunity to meet supporters of Life Is Not Complicated. But being back home, where my story began, among the friends and family who knew me long before I even dreamed of writing a book, was perhaps one of the most humbling and meaningful experiences I may have for a long time. The weekend began with a long awaited interview with KETK’s East Texas Live. The spirited exchange with Bob Brackeen literally had my hometown buzzing and helped set the stage for a tremendous weekend.
The following day, during my book-signing, I was overcome by a flood of emotions. Coming face to face with people who knew and loved my Mom- to whom the event was dedicated nearly brought me to tears at several points during the afternoon. There were so many pleasant surprises. As I sat in the newly restored library, Ms. Sheffield, the woman who gave my mom her very first job (coincidentally, at the old Jacksonville Public Library) walked in and my jaw dropped! She told me weeks prior, she saw a book with my picture on the cover and mused, “I wonder if that is Alice’s boy?”. When she realized I was indeed Alice Wallace’s oldest, she promptly decided she would make her way to this special event to tell me how much she loved my Momma, and how proud she was of me. I’m not sure people understand the magnitude of this encounter! My mom had just arrived in the city, with a young child in tow (I was not much older than three), ready to begin a new life and probably a little scared. And this woman gave her the opportunity that would set my mother on the path of success. This wonderful woman is such a significant part of my family’s history. As are the many former classmates, teachers, coaches, the parents of peers I have not seen in years (but manage to keep in touch with on social media)–all of whom gave up a few hours of their busy lives to share this day with me, to support a native son. That evening, I was invited to a special charity event, where once again I came face to face with my past in ways that will remain with me forever. Handshakes, hugs, reminiscences that called to mind a good time in my life. Old friends and acquaintances who talked fondly of my parents and my son Jazz. The rest of the weekend was filled with family dinners, visits, church… more memories in the making.
Saturday, April 12th, I was reminded why you can never forget where you came from. Whether your experience was good or bad, your roots, your foundation shape who you are. I write about the significance of one’s Foundation extensively in Life. The impact of our family and the community we grew up in will always have profound meaning in anyone’s life. Think back to the stories that make you laugh, cry, cringe, smile, shake your head while you wear a knowing smirk; I will bet good money many of those memories are from your childhood; your formative years; those coming of age days.
“I love what Jacksonville taught me and where it led me. The good, the bad and the indifferent all helped shape me. I may not live there anymore but it lives inside me. It is and will always be my foundation.” ~Carlos Wallace