“A few close friends understood why I wanted to live there, as a misfit Englishman with a US passport and a taste for remote places, but most people were genuinely mystified, or doubtful about my sanity.”
This picture is emblematic of our project. I’m standing in the middle of Bee Lake Rd. in Pluto, Mississippi. Richard Grant left New York City to buy an old plantation house here, a choice most wouldn’t have made for themselves. In his book, Richard writes about why he wanted to move to Mississippi, the people he met and places he went while he lived there, what he learned and how it all changed him.
People say a story “speaks to them”. This story did more than that for me. It gave me a blueprint to shed expectations of what my life should be and live in a self-honest way. I selected the quote above because I could’ve written the same thing last August when I moved to here to Macon County, North Carolina. Like Richard and Mississippi, I’d been toying with the idea of moving to Appalachia for years, and dreamed about all of the ways my life would burn with a strange fever when I finally did it.
When you can’t stop thinking about doing something, do it. Move to a new place, start a new project, and even drive from Minnesota down to a dirt road in the Mississippi Delta if your heart beats faster and harder at the thought of it.
Richard said one of his hopes in writing this book is to “dissolve these old clumsy stereotypes, and illustrate my conviction that Mississippi is the best-kept secret in America”. I hope to do the same, but with the places and people and stories that I consider to be the secrets to a good life.
Richard Grant’s story made my life more honest, more real, and much more satisfying. What stories have changed your life?