I got a box of Wordsmith cards that are designed to help with writer’s block, and I decided to try one out. If you don’t know what to write about, you pull out a card that has a question on it and you answer the question. The card I pulled out asked, “Where would you most like to live? (And why aren’t you living there already?)
Have you ever taken the time to figure out why you are where you are? I’m not talking about mentally or emotionally but physically. Why are you living on the coast or in the mountains or on the plains? Why are you living in a big city or on a farm? I have a theory that people are drawn to places geographically.
I lived in Ohio for a while. That was as close to a heavily populated area as I want to go. Yes, there was something going on all the time and I met some extraordinary people. My problem was that, there was something going on all the time and there were so many people! All those people, thinking all the time, filled the air with their thoughts and there wasn’t any quiet space for me.
There are people who need the hustle and bustle of people and excitement. It would be like living in the middle of a fireworks display! There’s an electricity in the air of big cities that can become addicting. There is always noise of some kind. Cars rushing by or radios blaring or industry huffing and puffing. People working shift work so that there is always someone going to work or getting off work.
There is amazing food in big cities, and it is easily accessible. Artists abound so that you can see glass work, sculpture, or paintings everywhere you turn. Musicians fill the air with great music – from the street corner to the symphony halls. There are lectures and workshops and seminars to expand your mind and introduce new thoughts.
I have a cousin who lives in Denver who told me once that the trick to living in a large city is to realize that it’s just a bunch of small towns across the street from each other. You have your own local grocery stores, pharmacies, plumbers, and electricians. You go to the local car repair places and general stores – but you have the bonus of being close to all kinds of entertainment. He had a good point!
If you live on the coast, there are thousands of bridges to get you across waterways and, if it is a shipping waterway, the bridge has to go halfway up to heaven so the ships can pass underneath. If you’re close to a beach, there is life, whether it’s people, shorebirds, turtles, or crabs.
The sound of the ocean is always there – either comforting or majestic or powerful. And the space! You can look clear to the horizon! It seems to me that there would be a bit of daring to live near an ocean. All the great explorers came from countries on an ocean. It invites people to come and see what’s on the other side!
Mountains are like that. You don’t have the broad vistas with mountains – but you do have the invitation to see what’s on the other side. Mountains, like oceans, can make your problems seem small! They are so big and have been there for centuries so there is a feeling of permanence about mountains that you don’t have with oceans. Oceans are restless and changing. Mountains are never changing – or at least they change slowly (except for avalanches)!
The thing about mountains is that there is always a possibility of finding a small valley tucked in with its own climate and ecosystem. Those small spaces where you can imagine building a cabin and living in peace – and many people do!
It takes special people to live in big cities or along the coasts or in the mountains. It takes special people to live in rural areas or on the plains.
There’s a dependence on each other in a small town that I don’t think you have in large cities. If a tornado or hurricane or fire comes, we all band together in lots of ways. The story was told of a small town in Kansas where a tornado came through and most of the town disappeared. The community rallied together and started the clean up and assistance. When the federal aid people came, they weren’t really needed because everything was under control. I think you couldn’t do that in a big city because there are too many variables in a large population.
There isn’t as much diversity in small towns. We tend to be prejudiced against the town gossip or the shyster lawyer. It’s more a matter of who they are rather than their race, gender, or religion.
Out here in the high plains area of the country, we don’t have the ocean whispering to us about seeing new places. We don’t have tall mountains inviting us to adventure. We have space and quiet. There are places where you can watch the sun (or the moon) from the time it comes up in the east to when it goes down in the west.
My brother said once that he missed the sunsets out here. I didn’t understand what he meant until I moved away and thought about it. In cities, there are buildings that can block the view or there are mountains, or there is an ocean. On the high plains, there isn’t anything except maybe a grain elevator or a stand of trees.
And there is quiet! Not silence but quiet so I can think my thoughts and decide if they are on track or not.
My answer to the question, then, is I would most like to live right where I am – and I’m already there!