Appalachian Type A Independence
Biding time is more than letting time pass by. Biding is standing ready, expectant, with trust and confidence in what may come.
And if we folks have a motto, it's this: 'Don't holler - smile and bide your time.' We've survived a passel of things that way, smiling and biding our time, and we've gotten to be experts at surviving. — Margaret Mitchell
I remember waking briefly a few times last night because the power went off, then returned, then went off again, and returned again. I know this because I sleep with a fan on, and I’m a light enough sleeper to notice.
This morning, coffee in hand and in position for my regular weekly call with Mother, I realized our phones had no dial tone. I also had to work on the weekend because of a nearly-county-wide planned scheduled power outage on Monday.
Rural life, for some reason, includes such inconveniences on a regular basis. (And don’t even get me started on Frontier Communications phone and internet services.)
Appalachians are being increasingly priced-out of home purchases. During the pandemic and recent housing boom, a flurry of out-of-staters “escaped” to the country, selling their high-price homes elsewhere to move where property taxes are lower and they thought they could work remotely or retire.
I think of those folks at times like these, and remember my own culture shocks when I arrived here 30 years ago...
The true darkness of the night here makes the stars brighter. I remember my first fall-back time change here when the porch light bulb burnt out. I stepped onto the second-story porch of my rented apartment — into pure black. Instantly I stopped in my tracks, the disorientation felt like I was stepping into a void. Blackness I had never seen with my eyes open. As a child of light pollution, I had never experienced the true dark of night. It was weeks before I looked up to see the Milky Way above me, a three-dimensional path across the sky.
Deer in the road, the fields, the garden. Pollen. Power outages; phone outages. Flash flooding.
(And just now, the power has gone off again. Let’s hope my laptop battery lasts unti I finish writing this, and that the phones perhaps return when the power returns….)
Some rural folk have what I call a “resigned independence.” We have resigned ourselves to accept crappy phone and internet service, tuned out on legislative and political promises to provide reliable internet, and have established preparedness procedures for when the power goes out and/or the flood waters rise. We carry chainsaws in our vehicles to cut the trees/branches down ourselves.
In rural West Virginia, the inconvenience of power and phone outages, dark nights and deer collisions, resignation, and shruggery have become culturally acceptable. We endure and survive despite the behavior, negligence, and political pandering of those who “serve” us. We do so because of our independence, resilience, and ability to adapt while our leaders continue to vote for the past.
But resigned independence isn’t really independence. The world is full of shortcomings and inconveniences. War, refugees, viruses, inflation, environmental chaos. The state is overflowing with overwhelming challenges, the recent disappointing WV legislative session for one major example. Our communities, recently blessed by Recovery Funds, face the challenges of that blessing and upcoming local elections with levies included.
If you are resigned to be independent but not influential, then your independence cannot and will not last.
Prior to Covid, a day without phone or power would frustrate me. After 30 years, I still have that little urban child within me that is absolutely flabbergasted at the lack of phone and power reliability. We are all so overwhelmed right now, and a large portion of the population would experience some level of anxiety at their restricted ability to GET THINGS DONE.
I don't think I've ever heard you laugh. Ever. You face life like it's a warrior come to chop your head off, and you're just biding your time fretting until it does. Haven't you ever heard of the power of laughter? — Noelle Crawford
I am a Type A Personality (operating at a more urgent pace, demonstrating higher levels of impatience, having a more competitive nature, getting upset easily, and associating self-worth with achievement) and a Scorpio (extremely deep emotional intense people). We make things happen. By force, push, politics, and pull. By sheer willpower and perhaps even spite. Why? Because someone has to, and Type As are not built to let things slide. Scorpios are driven by intense emotion. No Type A Scorpio can just let things go.
But there’s normal Type A, Scorpio Type A (me), and then there’s Applachian Type A. Appalachian Type A’s know how to bide their time. This changes everything about a Type A. There is no urgency, no impatience. There’s emotion and passion behind poker faces and prayer. things happen. By biding their time, choosing their time, and focusing their time, Appalachian Type A’s still make things happen.
“Bide” comes from the to Germanic *bīðan, "to wait, stand ready, hold out, expect." It has been argued that an older "place one's trust in something" developed into "expect with confidence, wait for" and then washed down to "undergo, endure."
Biding is not just passing time. Biding is standing ready, expectant, with trust and confidence. It is actively observing, allowing things to happen in their own time, watching for our opportunity to “jump in.” It’s not pushing or pulling or willpower — it’s planting, watering, tending the present with faith of a future harvest. It’s weeding and fertilizing. It’s waiting past the last frost of the season before sowing, it’s watering before the sun heats the soil.
The pandemic, by its nature and my personal experiences during, has been teaching me about resigned independence. I was suddenly enrolled an immersion course on Timing. Presentations relating to “too early” and “too late.” Tests to differentiate between“not yet,” and “not now,” and “not ever.” The subtle differences between force, manipulation, influence, and encouragement. The difference between getting my way and getting aligned with the natural flow of things.
I think, after 30 years as a transplant here, I have finally resigned myself to grow and bloom where I am planted — doing my best to survive the deer, environmental toxins, invasive weeds, in soil dominated by red clay mud-clod leadership.
I’m not a native species and never will be, even though I have now lived more than half my life here, and my roots are apparently deeper and more complex than I myself realized. I still am unable to see here in the dark, but when I went to pull up and replant myself, my taproot held me here.
Resigned independence — after 30 years, I get it. Too many have confused biding our time with resignation and waiting. So many give up and let the world have its way with them. So many wither, and never bloom.
Has this version of me been lurking there all along, somewhere deep below the surface, biding its time, waiting for its chance to make an appearance? — Cat Clarke
True independence requires you to bloom where you’re planted with petals bright enough and big enough to shade and starve out the weeds. It requires color, faith, effort, endurance. Through sun, sleet, snow, frost, power and phone outages, you can bide your time with confidence, expectation, and faith that your investments will come back around. The sun will shine again, spring will bring summer and your strategic efforts and beautiful blossoms will produce sweet lucious fruit in a bountiful future harvest.
True Appalachian independence, I think, includes strategic consistent influence, adapting expectations to reality, and biding time. These are the skills and traits of an Appalachian Type A. They may look resigned, but they are not. For example: Your heart may soften at the thought of a little old ladies’ sewing circle. But I guarantee you aren’t going to tell that group if, when, or how to do anything they don’t want to. They are sewing, likely scheming, and biding their time. And when they decide join forces and step up (smiling and often subtle), they really make it count.
There is a local election coming. An opportunity for us to stop watching the grass grow and plant some seeds. Now is not the time to “hold out” or simply “endure.” The State of West Virginia will be receiving over 4 billion dollars in Federal ARPA Funds. Over $678 million in funding will go directly to West Virginia's cities and counties, to be administered by local governments. Our region needs to plan for the future, to diversify, to exert some faith to surpass the status quo. Locally, the allotment is listed as follows:
Gilmer County - $1,519,526.00
Calhoun County - $1,380,840.00
City of Glenville - $600,000.00
City of Grantsville - $210,000.00
(Note: This does not include the funding for school systems, and libraries fall under the “Arts, Culture, and Tourism” funding option — a local low priority.
These funds are our opportunity to upgrade and support our libraries, fire department, emergency services, infrastructure for reliable internet and more. If you’ve been biding your time for community and economic development, that time has come.
You think it's impossible to be a passive fighter? Well, sometimes fighting just means existing. Existing, not going away, and quietly biding your time. — Sophie Hardach
Who will you be electing this year? Who will you be supporting? Who are you choosing to oversee these funds for our entire community’s well-being far into the future?
We can’t have confidence, faith or expectation for our futures if we haven’t invested or applied any influence. Are you registered to vote? What levy services are up for renewal? Are you willing to endorse the levies that support these services?
What seeds are you sowing this year? What are you expecting and what is our reality? As you bide your time until the election, what do you expect from the results? Unless you vote, you cannot have faith. Unless you vote, you exert no influence.
We cannot expect better from our communities or ourselves if our Appalachian Type A Independence includes voter apathy. We cannot have confidence or faith in our community futures if we don’t support levies that fund vital services. We cannot expect better if we sit idly by and trust our local governments to spend these ARPA Funds without supervision and input.
The season of porch sitting is almost upon us. If you vote this May, you can bide your time on the porch this summer perhaps with more confidence and faith in our community’s future.
Or, you can resign yourself to sit, worry, and watch the weeds grow.
When candidates approach you, ask them their hopes/plans/intentions for ARPA Funds. Support the Vital Services Levies and please encourage others to vote this year, to register to vote if they aren’t registered. If you can’t find your own words to do so, forward this post and use mine:
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