|George Buster Singleton|
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Solution for happiness and contentment: Backwoods provides entertainment that can’t be found by watching television” was originally published in the Nov. 20, 1986 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
Most people nowadays have trouble finding something to occupy their time and keep from being bored.
They watch television from early morning until late evening. During a 24-hour period, they see at least three brutal murders re-enacted on the tube and at least three or four families broken up because of money, lack of money, hanky panky among the parents, or just plain boredom.
I don’t watch television very much because I don’t have time to sit and watch a small piece of glass with figures dashing to and fro. Mind you, I’m not knocking the television industry. More power to their advertisements and the thousands of items that are supposed to make you stay younger, smell better, live longer, be happy living on an island all by yourself, acquire the macho look by using a certain brand of snuff, and all that goes with it.
Backwoods vs. television
Of course, no has asked me what is the secret to being happy, and probably won’t ever. But I believe I could tell them a thing or two about contentment, happiness, adventure and other things that would keep one occupied.
I could tell them that one trip through the backwoods with the fall colors spread across the hills would surpass any television program. I could tell them the challenge of investigating certain stories and legends around the area would provide more excitement than 40 murders or hidden loves among the rich and famous actors on the screen.
I could tell them that one early Indian village site could provide enough interest and excitement to last a person a whole month. I could suggest a certain hill, not too far away, where an evening sunset would be remembered for a long, long time. Or I could give directions to a certain creek where one could stretch out on a hot summer day and never move again until frost fell.
Old, tired and lazy
I hear the excuses each day of being old, tired, afraid, retired and just plain lazy. I don’t understand people. I long for the day when I can devote all my time to roaming the countryside, seeking and discovering the many things that await there. I feel sorry for the individuals who don’t have the initiative to go forth and search for the unusual that is to be found almost everywhere.
Once all the barriers have been broken down as to why one can’t do the above-mentioned things, there is always the problem of money. No one can afford to buy one pair of shoes that is easy on the feet, a pair that won’t rub the feet when walking. The stores are full of good shoes that cost less than one meal for two in a restaurant or an evening on the town. A cheap coffeepot, a box of matches, some coffee in a small plastic bag, and you are ready for everything.
Then, if you really want to live it to the highest expectations, acquire a cheap sleeping bag and a large sheet of plastic. Search out the high hills, and find one where the wind blows through the pine trees. Prepare to spend the night there on the ground, wrapped up in the plastic so as to keep most of the dew off the sleeping bag. Lie there in the solitude of the evening and listen to the music of the sighing winds through the pine needles. Don’t be alarmed if a curious armadillo tries to get into the sleeping bag with you. He won’t hurt you; he is just looking for food.
Remember: you’re lucky
Listen to the sounds of the night for a while before you go to sleep. Try to identify each as you fight off the sandman and drowsiness. If at any time you feel that you are not the luckiest person in the world, remind yourself of where you are and the feeling of peace that has come over you.
Learn to identify all the species of plants and trees. Know which ones can be eaten. Know which ones can cure various illnesses. The knowledge of being able to cope with nature brings on great satisfaction. You become more sure of yourself; you become more aggressive. The desire to explore and seek out the mysteries draws you forward.
Remember that you are part of the universe. You have a right to be here, but you must respect the rights of everything else. They, too, are a part of the great plan.
Happiness and contentment are here for all that search for them. Don’t be found wanting.
(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)