Each town has its own unique attributes. More specifically, small towns generally share a similar thread: a tight-knit community coupled with a legato pace. Depending on one’s perspective, these attributes could either be a benefit or a deterrent. Many people choose to live a small town because they don’t like to wait 30 minutes to travel across town, or when walking into a restaurant or grocery store, they enjoy having the ability to be recognized: a server remembering your usual order or running into a friend.
For me it was the pace. I may have stated an adverse opinion in my youth, but things change. What becomes important changes, and if you read my last column, you may know I’ve invested a fair amount of time and money on this idea. At the time, I reveled in the late night abstractions — the simple pleasures of silence as it reigned absolute when the street lights would illuminate the sidewalks. If you know me well it is easily deduced I am fairly reflective. Many instances throughout the day, I am often far away in some other stratosphere processing some internal question. A small town is great for a person of my sensibilities, but just like any good thing in life, too much can become a burden.
In the evenings after I first moved in to my new house, I would come home and turn nothing on and just sit in silence. It was like pushing the reset button, where my mind would be free to wander and process the day. It took a week before the thought began to arise, the existential question.
This was one point in my life when I confronted myself and I had to reevaluate my goals and my direction. Despite meeting a couple of personal goals such as owning a house and being relatively secure, the idea of what I wished to accomplish entered stage left. A life is more than a career, it is more than possessions and it is definitely more than a bank account statement. Of course these things are important to have in Maslowian sense, but I’ve subscribed to the Platonic description, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” And there was definitely something missing.
What make you feel whole? That was the question. For some, it lies the in the moments spent with their children and for others it is some aspirational goal. Since I don’t have children of my own, I’ve always felt a connection to the latter. I’ve never felt more connected than when creating something. Even as I write these words, knowing there will be a completed column after the final key stroke, I feel that I’ve accomplished something, or at the least created something. But after finishing a project, I have no delusions of grandeur that after this issue runs it course, one day it will disappear in the discarded text of the past. But even to this day, I still receive a rush from seeing the words I’ve written in print or to listen to a piece of music I’ve written. That was what was missing. The fact that I could get lost in a moment, and have my fingers move on autopilot regardless if it was running up the neck of the guitar or poking at letters on the keyboard. Essentially, the result at least brought some meaning to my life as I tried to assuage the tombstone blues.
I guess the point I’m trying to make can be reduced to much simpler language: There is only one shot you have at this thing called life. How many times do you say, I’ll get to that some other day? Life is too short to not pursue the passions you enjoy life. Try not to look back and think: if only…