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Fred First: Possible Futures in Possible Places

Of all the things I imagine doing, all the places I imagine going when we land—hopefully on our feet—in a place we hope will come to feel like home. Which of these intended future places or people or activities will I actually experience?

I know that the answer might well be NONE OF THEM.

I know that, often, it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.

But that is what FAITH and HOPE are about, isn’t it? to project possibilities as they might take place in a world created by the persistence and sincerity of your desire and expectation. We have hope, while knowing that this world is the one where things fall apart.

But they also fall together. And that is the story I am telling myself, stepping off where the sidewalk ends, into the void of the Third Age near the end of the Moving Walkway.

PINK FLOYD circa 2007

As grievous a personal loss as it will surely be to leave everything and everyone that has been dear to us for a quarter century, there will be people and places in our future lives in that future place that we will be drawn towards and connect with in the time that remains.

I have to counterbalance the certainty of loss against the knowledge that we will be living under the same roof with age peers, some of whom have backgrounds or interests that resonate with my own. They will have stories worth hearing and I will have stories worth telling.

What might I do that will make unfamiliar places feel like home, so that we are not rank strangers when we get there?


I think I can safely say this: If I am isolated and bored six months after we move into our wee apartment in Columbia, well that’s on me.

But if I choose to be engaged and stay active and establish relationships with people and places, I can say with confidence-from-a-distance that the Columbia community will be able to meet my needs.

As I have said, we’ve been on the ground in Columbia a few times–none for cultural or recreational purposes. But even so, as urban swarms of that size go, I thought then that I might could live there. Now, we’ll find out for sure.

By way of the interwebs, I am feeling like I know my way around a bit. I will not be totally lost and at sea when I arrive. This kind of preemptive exploration was not nearly so complete or thorough for our move to Floyd County in 1997. I am thankful to go there, virtually, before we go there bodily.

So with the tools at hand, I have been probing the future for those potential involvements and investments in the community that will meet my needs for finding purpose, conviviality and growth. And in what I am learning, my confidence only grows. Meanwhile, the map is not the territory. Yep. I know that.


These are the things I will seek out before moving and hope to find on the ground once we get there:
  1. NATURE & ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT: Open spaces, natural areas, trails and access to native plant and animal life, including connections with local experts and enthusiasts in these areas. Would an electric bike be an option?
  2. HISTORY & CULTURE: Similarly, I would like to connect with local historical societies to learn the cultural history, and with geologists for the post-glacial history. Geology is a long standing interest.
  3. SOCIAL CONNECTION: Opportunities and venues where I can connect with people who share common interests with me. This would be found in a social setting (pub or club outing or church) and also in academic settings (classes, workshops etc) on the Missou Campus and in the town. New friends would be coveted having left dozens behind in Virginia.
  4. ENTERTAINMENT: musical or drama performances, especially live events in town or discussion groups. I’d be happy to find some old dudes who jam on my particular kind of “oldies.” Or I adopt theirs.
  5. EDUCATION: On a university campus, what courses might I audit or take online or in person that extends my knowledge in an area that genuinely interests me? This might be an art or craft; a new sport; a second language or computer coding.


Next post, I’ll tell you what I have found so far from these newcomer needs that seem fitting for elder interests and capabilities.

I’d be glad to have suggestions for ways to ease this transition. Others our age have landed well in new places and have turned transplant shock into well-rooted new growth in new soil. Can we do that?

Thankfully, Boone County, Missouri has done a respectable job of getting their resources into modern physical facilities in the town and onto well-designed and maintained on the web. From the dozens of online researches I have catalogued on my hard drive, I will only give friends and readers an overview, just to assure you that have reasonable hope to be assimilated into the Columbia neighborhood.

We may talk another time about what we will GIVE UP to gain all those perks, central Missouri versus Southwest Virginia. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

FLOYD COUNTY has not been plagued by tornados. Central Missouri, yeah, kinda.– Fred First is an author, naturalist, photographer watching Nature under siege since the first Earth Day. Cautiously hopeful. Writing to think it through. Thanks for joining me. Subscribe to My Substack HERE

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