McNab Arkansas: My first experience of feeling free!

I can remember when I was young, around 7 or 8, of my times down my Granny Joyce house in McNab, Arkansas. McNab with the population of 65, was the first place I can remember feeling authentically free.

In McNab, right off a main highway road on vast acres where three homes. There was the brick home that Poppa George and Granny Alyweiser (my great-grandfather and great-grandmother), then the white house with the red door which was the home for Granny Joyce and Daddy Red Top (my grandmother and grandfather) and next to that house was another white house which was the home  of Uncle Buddy and Auntie Linda (my great-uncle and great-aunt).  Between the two white house’s there were 12 kids.

I haven’t smelled that type of air in many years.

I knew everyone because everyone was family, and at my age I wouldn’t have been able to distinguish anyone who wasn’t because everyone who came to my Granny home was received as family. 

It’s the smells that comes back to me most instantly; the outdoors to a young child can be the most amazing wonders in world. The smell of grass and how the breeze carries it to where you can feel it brush across your skin. The smell of honeysuckles. I can’t forget the smell of Granny Joyce cooking. That woman could make a dollar out of fifteen cents for real, when it came to prepare huge meals for the family and making it feel like you were eating at a Michelin restaurant. It was her cooking that woke up the household. No alarm clock just good old country cooking.

The next sense that comes to me when thinking back is sight. I can still see the layout of what is no longer standing this day; the long winding dirt drive way to Papa George; the pathway between the pastures getting you back and forth to Papa and Granny homes. The big tree everyone loved to climb in between Granny and Uncle Buddy home. The dirt basketball court that all my uncles and cousins thought they were NBA players. I can still see the inside of each home; like the end scene in Titanic.

But it is the sense of touch that takes me to the first experience of feeling free. I am unsure if all country kids grew up walking outside barefooted, but this country/city gal did. I can remember the feel of the dirt in between my toes; the feel of the bark against my hands as I tried to climb the big tree.

For me what felt the best was when I would go back and forth to Granny and Papa house; in fact, I think I made frequents trips back and forth just to take the trip.

The pasture was about a quarter of a mile distance in between the two homes. I would get to the beginning of the passageway, barefooted and start to run. It is an inexplicable feeling that even now with an advance degree and worldly travels I still cannot place in true accuracy. It’s like that one place where all the senses are elevated; with the smell of the grass in the air surrounding me, the feel of the ground beneath my feet, and the sight of my granny or papa home each time brought this nostalgia sensation of warmth and safety and overabundance of love.

“No matter which direction I chose to run in I knew even at a small age that I was running towards love.”

I didn’t know if my uncles, aunts or cousins had any similar feelings about running across the pasture; but I did. It would take years into adulthood and reflecting to understand what things and places makes me feel nothing but love, strength, balance and safety. It will take just as long of a time to discover my solitude is my biggest comfort.

I started to notice a similar trend to the formula of my recharge, and re-balance time

I have lived in many places so I won’t go down the list but instead I will tell you about two of them.

When I lived in Guam one of my favorite things to do would go to the beach late at night and walk the shoreline right where the sand and waves would meet. It would be so dark but calming. The ocean would have this shimmer and the sky would look so surreal, like a painting. I would barely be able to see anything in front of me, it was like the darkness would envelop me and the sound of the waves would serenade me. The smell of the ocean water cleared my mind and for the length I would walk which would be close to 2 miles back and forth; I felt free.

No other voices, no distractions just myself and nature.

Thinking back on its years later, I realized I was drawn to the vastness of the ocean. It is something about being in a place where you can literally see just how big the world is in comparison to yourself; that places life in a certain perspective. If I arrived at the beach with issues, I never left with them.

I started to realize that I always turned to nature and solitude. No matter where I would live, I always started my journey with a challenge in finding that one place, away from the noise of life.

Whether it was a beach or a trail; I searched for it until I found one. I would go those places in all moments of my life. I would go to clear my mind or to open my mind to receive ideas. It was always the same sensations.

The smells.

The sights.

The touch.

Until this day when I need to be reminded of my purpose and the good and perfect in the world; when I need to remember love is the absolute power; to when I just want to recharge my energy and release any tension; I go to that place.

I invite you to take that walk, away from everyday life, pause the music, the phone and I think you will have a better insight of the freedom that I feel.

I would love to hear when you feel the freest.

This World is Big. With ongoing chaos that we sometimes can escape, other times adapt and survive through. We all need a place where we can anchor our energy and fight to. For myself, that place starts where I feel the most free at. Here’s to you finding or knowing yours, 

~Terra Howard

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