Rare is the person, who when encountering a stranger, can see behind the curtain of flesh like a sword that knows just where to punch into the joints and marrow to divide soul and spirit. Like an orange desert touching purple mountains, is the touchpoint where left brain meets right. Only a few can see it. Fewer still are those who can engage it in the tradition of the ancient words: your gift will make room for you.
I bring this story to you, Dear Reader, to tell you that I have met a handful of these creatures in my life, their gifts never seeking any spotlight of their own. Their pursuit is the sole desire to open the treasure chest of another and pick out what is good and useful like pure gold just to hold it up to the light and watch it shine. Virtuous, covered, and steadfast, they mine the forgotten fields of buried treasure. Seeing to the good in life, they still believe that righteousness will always prevail.
When I have ever met such a type of human, it was not in some march upon the steps of a government building or on the cover of a book. It was not on some stage or somewhere carrying the banner of me in some parade. No, I usually encountered this kind of someone while running my race, when suddenly I look up to see a fellow sojourner running alongside me for a while. That’s where I met those kinds of someones. Once in the corner of a great hall I met one. Another time on a hilltop, carrying a tape measure and a hammer, I met one. And one that I will tell you about, that I met at a party while I was just doing my thing and shaking a few hands.
You see, I promised myself that even though this is my summer column, I was not going to be suckered by tradition into writing about the top ten ways to do anything. What, I ask you, has become of this world that we must scroll to read only the bold, highlighted numbers of an article just so we can know where to take our kids on vacation!? No. Not this year.
In fact, I remember last year about this time when I stayed up all night penning my column Top Ten Reasons to Return to Fulton’s Folly. I was contacting artists in the night with questions about why they painted this or that steamboat and by 3 a.m. I was only on the 6th reason. But at some point just in the nick of time, genius struck and off to Max went my column!
I thought of all the many summers the aforementioned Max has been waiting on me as I toiled away somewhere deep in thought. Known to all the locals for what he has brought to the community, I remember those days when it all first started. While there are many reasons for the success of The Cross Timbers Gazette, there is the man and his family behind it all, who even though he may not know it, I have dubbed Maximillion.
I couldn’t decide for which reason I gave Max this nickname in my head for all these years. Was it because for ten years or more I have jokingly berated him for being so conservative that he oils his pennies or because he is going to make a million by printing the stories of the rest of us and we keep begging him to do it? For me, I believe the real reason he will always be Maximillion is that he has a seeing ability to find the gifts in others and lift them up which is a one-in-a-million type of ability. Max and I were sales competitors when we first met at that fateful party, and now the rest is history. Ten years and counting of the best stories a girl’s heart could find, hand delivered to Maximillion and crew on a silver platter in the wee hours of the night. Everywhere I go, I run into people who have touched North Texas and many times they will have heard of Max’s monthly publication.
The Cross Timbers Gazette team has thrived under his leadership after longtime owner LaRue Johnson sold out to someone she approved of, and rightly so. We all work during sleeping hours and under deadlines to bring forth this monthly publication. Never, not once, could anyone have ever called our fearless leader Mad Max or told him he was being a Gluteus Maximus. No sir. He is the kind of soul that can look upon the good in people even when he has far more reason to find otherwise. That’s what makes him great at his work.
I thought as I head out of town this year on our Arkansas pandemic vacay that I may do well to drop Maximillion a little note that states my intentions of not writing about a road trip. Should I pen a column named Top Ten Reasons I Am Not Writing a Top Ten Article, Max? No, that won’t do. I thought I might just say it like this:
Dear Maximillion Max,
I hope this little note finds you well. I’ll be in Arkansas if you need me. No Top Ten. No road trip. No Wifi. I’ll be floating down some river, paddling some kayak and I won’t even think about writing back home of how refreshing the green water of the Ozarks is. When I hike up to the top of Mt. Nebo, I’m sure you’ll understand if I don’t write in or send any photos of the gorgeous sunsets. Or the hot tubs. Yes, the hot tubs of Arkansas and their spring water with a few mineral salts added for flavor. I wouldn’t be writing about that either, because frankly Maximillion, it is time I take a little post-pandemic time for me. You’re welcome. You know how I love those sandwiches in the ice chest. There is no need for me to describe the whole experience of becoming one with nature yet again this year. You know the routine.
After penning that draft, I thought better of it. But then I decided to send it anyway. If this column makes it into the Gazette, you will know I am still here.