I've recently been pondering the difference between living in the past or the future, and allowing the past to inform the present and the future. Although this may seem obvious to some, to me the difference can be subtle. The key is staying in the moment, or at least as close to the moment as I can. It’s where everything in reality happens. The moment is the place to be.
Sentimentalism can be a dangerous trap, because it resists one of the foremost laws of the universe: change. It can be challenging to look upon past experiences with an objective eye, taking from it that which serves me in a positive way and letting go of the rest. I believe that life is a walk along a path of mental, emotional, and spiritual growth; this means when I reflect upon the person I once was, I’m reflecting upon a lesser version of myself. There were times when that person was in darkness and turmoil. Ironically, those are the times that can be the most informative.
So, too, it is with our community. We choose how we wish to allow things to move forward, what we will take with us into the future, and what we will leave behind. There was a time on the East Side when the situation wasn’t very rosy. Slumlords tore 20th century homes down only to replace them with rectangular brick eyesores with mansard roofs. Today we have developers maximizing their return by taking advantage of a loophole in the zoning code and building what amounts to a duplex on what was once occupied by a single family dwelling.
Our cover feature this issue focuses on two individuals who have made enormous contributions to East Nashville, and who demonstrate that we can all make a difference should we so choose. It’s not enough to lob spitballs at people with whom we disagree on the Listserv; it takes the motivation to learn about how the community functions, who the council members are, etcetera. Lean on those who know their way around. The ones I’ve met encourage my involvement and have gone out of their way to help me grasp how things fit together around here. What amazes me is how much difference a small contribution of one’s time can make, especially considering there is power in numbers.
The 2013 East Nashvillians of the Year, Carol Williams and March Egerton, care deeply about the community they call home. They respect each other’s contributions, and both possess that most human of qualities—empathy— which allows them to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. This brings to the table the ability to understand how compromise can actually be a win-win. If the past shows us anything it’s that entrenched positions are bad for everyone involved.
From Disgraceland to Joe McMahan, Theresa Kereakes and Warren Pash to Sarah Coomer’s Resolution Revamp, Hags to Womack, our first issue of 2014 has a thread running through it: how the past informs our present and our future.
As it is said, the future starts now.
In closing, I want to say that it is with heavy hearts we bid farewell to our friend, Tracy Hamilton. Along with our publisher, Lisa, Kim Collins, and Brandy Smiley, Tracy graced the cover of The East Nashvillian one year ago for the story we published on breast cancer called “The Warriors.” Tracy truly was a warrior, but in the end she lost her battle with this terrible illness. I knew Tracy for many years, and not once did I ever see her without a smile. She always had a genuinely kind disposition and was a joy to be near. She and her husband, Jesse, opened The Village Pub together, and it has since become a staple of the neighborhood. Tracy, you will be missed. Godspeed and sweet dreams, my friend.