While home from college, I found myself sitting on the bed in my childhood bedroom. As I sat there in a reflective mood, I had a strange urge to dig through the bookshelf sitting in the corner of my old room. It felt as though there was something I needed to find, to uncover. Without thinking, I went over to the bookshelf and immediately reached for a small, yellow felt box on the bottom corner of the shelf.
The box, once my stationery kit, was filled with old summer camp penpal letters and photos from middle school. Unsure of what I was looking for, I began flipping through the contents of the box, until I found it — the treasure that subconsciously had instigated my search. In my hand lay a small, delicate letter with tight, blue cursive writing. It was a letter from my deceased grandfather, addressed to my younger brother and me.
The note was simple, yet eloquent. He explained the pride and love he had for us and his excitement for my brother and me to learn about the world. The final line of the letter read, “Each of us constitutes a Universe. To learn more about us, we must first learn about the big Universe around us. So be my guest! Love you both, Papa.”
The letter was dated 10 days prior to my grandfather’s death in 2005. I was reading it — really reading it — for the first time nearly 10 years after it was written. This letter, in essence, contained his final words to us. To make it more timely, I found his writing two weeks before departing to travel and live abroad — exactly how my grandfather spent his life and best days. It felt as though he wrote this letter knowing I’d find it, exactly in that moment. He always believed in life, there are no coincidences.
I soon departed for Europe. My Papa’s words served as the best teacher as I lived in southern Spain, aspiring to learn the language and a culture I’d never known.
Papa’s words became my mantra; I think of them often. Every moment I have the chance to learn about the world around me — by finishing a new book, tuning into public radio, or speaking with a stranger — the truth behind my grandfather’s words is revealed. We cannot understand ourselves, or our place in the world, without first broadening our scope of it.
I have come to know understanding the big universe does not mean crossing oceans, it begins by learning about the world and stories around us — our community. I have discovered this especially important truth to Papa’s final words during my time working for Moonshine Ink.
Moonshine Ink’s duty — to inform the public, to reveal truth — gives the community a chance to know the world and stories around them, to ultimately better understand their universe, their world. Our reactions to these stories and facts are merely a reflection.
Without independent sources of media — a cornerstone of democracy — there are shallow horizons of knowledge. Therefore, I find it’s necessary for the health of our community (and nation) to have reliable sources of local, independent media today, and every day.
This Moonshine you hold, I believe, is a gateway to truth, much akin to my grandfather’s final adieu. I hope you’ll use it to expand your knowledge of the great, big universe around you. It all starts here, at home.