“Not everybody drives a truck, not everybody drinks sweet tea/Not everybody owns a gun, wears a ball cap boots and jeans/Not everybody goes to church or watches every NASCAR race/Not everybody knows the words to “Ring Of Fire” or “Amazing Grace”/Oh, Dixie Land, /I hope you understand/When I miss my Tennessee Home/And/I’ve been away way too long/I can’t see this world unless I go/Outside my Southern Comfort Zone”
Southern Comfort Zone – Brad Paisley
I always read magazines in reverse – from end to beginning. The best stuff is always on the back page. Whether it’s the steamy hot ads for porn shops, dating services and DUI lawyers or the five-question interview with some random star – the best stuff is always on the back pages.
So I wasn’t the least bit disappointed a little while ago when I picked up a copy of Sierra magazine, flipped to the back and was stopped dead in my tracks by the image of several butterflies fluttering around a turtle.
“Fuck me,” I thought to myself. “I want to see that.”
And the idea for a piece began percolating. It sat there for several weeks bubbling under my surface – not really taking any real shape but not going away either.
I don’t usually listen to the radio, or if I do it’s typically National Public Radio. But today I was a little tired of the news, my iPod was KIA and I was flipping through the channels. For so many stations, Southern California doesn’t offer much in the way of diversity on the dial. And I so flipped and flipped and flipped looking for a three second grab and then a riff caught my attention – a simple guitar jangle with a bit of twang – and I slowed down.
Hmm, don’t recognize the singer but the tune and words are great – I can’t see this world unless I go outside my southern comfort zone. Now let me be clear, I grew up in the frozen north, I make no pretense to be a southerner but …
“Fuck me,” I thought to myself. “I feel you, brother.”
And it started coming together.
I ran screaming from Alaska in ’92, couldn’t get far enough away from San Diego in ’97. The dawning of the new millennium saw my partying down in San Francisco while just two years later I would be in Ohio, only to return to the city by the bay a few short months later and then … back again to Ohio. I went and fought in wars, felt trapped and slipped out of a hangmen’s noose, swinging from the gallows of a house in Galion. Traipsed all over Arizona, went and found the ocean in Cuba and found my way back to San Diego for the third or fourth time … I forget.
Along the way I learned a lot of things and became something of an accidental Taoist – it just makes sense not to accumulate or be attached a lot of shit when you move around all the time. One thing has pretty much remained a constant – my eyes looking over the horizon. Even today, there’s always a glance over the hillside, a look beyond, searching for all the world has to offer.
Maybe that’s why I’ve never been able to stay the course when it comes to work, I really don’t know on this one and it probably deserves more thought. But every time I start to feel locked into something, I bolt.
The world’s too amazing. There’s too much to see and we just don’t get all that much time on this planet to take it all in. And so I stand there … or here … or wherever really, a rucksack already packed in my mind, one foot out the door, the next horizon just over the hill and a winding road ready to take me there.
We all need to get out of our Southern Comfort Zone and see the world. Experience that majesty that really I this planet we live on. And perhaps along the way we can broaden our perspective. Change the narrow views of living in the same isolated place all our life and really, truly realize that for how amazingly different we all are, we really are the same bunch of inter-connected masses seeking love, acceptance and struggling under the same yoke of human existence.
Fuck me, I want to see that.