Is my head on fire?

People keep turning on the heat. Autumn is giving us taste of what South Carolina winter feels like. The dog doesn’t like to go outside at night. The maintenance men are cranking up the thermostats. The air in every room I enter is dry.

And everything smells like burning hair.

I don’t get sick very often (he types as he virtually knocks wood). But the heaters are giving me that droopy feeling. I’m not sick but I feel like I have just come off a three-day flu and tried to go back to work. My brain is wrapped in cheese cloth. My muscles (little as they may be) are atrophied. And I think about little more than stumbling back into my house for a nap.

The only thing that’s keeping me going right now is LEAF. A week from tomorrow I’ll be on my way up to Black Mountain, North Carolina’s Camp Rockmont. My friends will be in front of me, behind me, beside me on I-26 as we navigate the inevitable traffic (the fall leaves are turning and people can’t keep their eyes on the road).

But…I got some very bad news last night.

My friend Mike (one of the family group that opened hearts and coolers to me and my wife) got the call. He’s in his mid-30’s and missed Spring LEAF because he was in boot camp. He had his own reason for going into the National Guard at such a late age and I admired him for them. But my heart got really heavy last night when I heard his commander had called and said Mike would likely be on his way to Ft. Bragg in the coming days. It meant he would not be sitting around tent city next week, telling his stories, and making me wish I was as good as man as he. I slept heavy.

Mike is one of those rare people. Life and its many downers don’t weigh on his spirit. He seems to thrive on the things that drag the rest of the world down. He has this inner fuel that you don’t find in other people. He rarely stops moving, finds spirit in the mundane, and makes everyone feel like his best friend. Last LEAF, Susannah made memorial can coozies so we wouldn’t forget that Mike was neck-deep in mud under five strings of barbed wire…while we were neck-deep in live music and six sheets to the wind. Another LEAF without Mike would’ve been…not bad…but, again, missing something.

Then, I got some very good news this morning. Commander called back. The orders aren’t coming for now. Which means Mike is coming to LEAF.

In the short time it has taken me to pound this post out, the room doesn’t feel as hot. I don’t feel as atrophied. The cheese cloth is ripping open and I feel like I can think (at least a little bit).

You ever wonder if you miss what matters in life while you’re sitting around wondering what matters in life?

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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