“Tell me who you are, and I’ll tell you where you’re from.”
I was born in the Louisiana Pineywoods when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. Most of them are gone, and I still miss them greatly. They helped shape my life, and I’ll always be grateful for each of them.
These older men of my Dry Creek childhood, whether kin or neighbors, taught me how to live. Even though they were the grandsons of men who’d fought for the South in the Civil War, they never taught me to hate. They showed me how to love and live fully.
Many were blood kin, but I felt as if all of these older men were related at some level that transcends DNA and family trees. They were my teachers, mentors, and life-guides.
I thank God for their influence.
However, there were other dinosaur species of my childhood that I can gladly say are nearing extinction. They carried the baggage of hate and prejudice that has no place in the Pineywoods or anywhere else.
To them and their way of thinking, I say good riddance.
The Pineywoods Manifesto focuses on the positive traits, traditions, and values passed on to me that I now wish to pass on to my grandsons.
This is simply a book to my grandsons wherein I try to pass on the things that matter.
And I’ll say up front, it’s not things that matter. It’s always people.
I struggled in two ways with naming this book. Its original working title was The Pineywoods Manifesto.
I settled on A Pineywoods Manifesto: A Field Guide to the Full Life. Changing A to The isn’t meant to be presumptuous. I’m not the final word on anything, especially a region of Louisiana as complex and complicated as the land between the Sabine and Calcasieu Rivers.
Please accept this as simply a collection of one man’s thoughts, stories, and philosophies. It’s my humble attempt to pass these qualities onto my four grandsons and their future offspring. If it helps anyone else, I’ll be so grateful.
The second title item I struggled with was Manifesto.
Merriam Webster defines a manifesto as “a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer.”
Socialism, Marxism, and radical terrorism have kidnapped the word “manifesto.” It is associated with extremism and violence.
I want to restore the word to what it really means. A manifesto is simply a statement of what one believes, and those beliefs are so strongly held, the writer must share them publicly.
A Pineywoods Manifesto is my contrarian world view of how things should be. I guess in its own way, it is as radical as any manifesto. These beliefs are burning a hole in my heart and I’m compelled to share them.
I lay no claim to great or original insight, but my manifesto contains one thing that cannot be bought or sold: passion.
It’s about what I deeply believe. As one of my favorite singers, Van Morrison writes,
“There’s only two kinds of truth: What’s in your head,
And what’s in your heart.”
The Pineywoods Manifesto is from my heart.
I had to write it or die.
November 2018. Dry Creek/Alexandria, Louisiana