Small Towns Valued

Small Towns Valued

 When I was much younger than I am today, John Cougar Mellencamp sang a song I didn't understand.  The words I understood, but I never quite got the underlying meaning of them.  However, now when I hear it, not only do I comprehend but I also treasure it for the anthem it truly is.  For you see, I too was born in a small town and have chosen to remain there.  

I believe it takes moving away to appreciate one's hometown for the gem it can be.  Granted, not always.   There are many who have successfully left their roots, and shook the dust of their past from their heels.  I understand why they've done so, although never quite managed my own self.

My family was raised here.  Not just my daughter, but also my father and his father before him.  Mom too, for that matter.  When I was a teenager, I longed for the day when I wouldn't be known by everyone  as my parents' child but rather to be a person in my own right.  I yearned for the time when I could escape the familiar bonds of knowing someone would call and tell my folks about whatever mischief I'd managed to create long before my shadow ever crossed the front door.  For the chance to be a stranger to everyone and have everything be new to me as well.

So, I packed my bags and ran eagerly into the big world that wasn't my hometown.  To a place where taxis actually existed and not everyone closed up shop at dark.  It was marvelous, it was terrifying, exciting and lonely.  For the first time in my life, I didn't know my neighbors.  And there was no one there to bail me out when the car wouldn't start in the big empty parking lot of the largest department store I'd ever been in.  Nor could I get a decent recommendation for a GOOD garage.  Amazing the things you miss, isn't it?

This flirtation with the 'real' world didn't last long.  I only stayed gone for about 18 months, and I'm not ashamed to say I wept when I saw the sign post for my county when I returned home.  It was a learning experience, and one I truly hope my daughter also has.  She too longs to run away from home and explore the world.

Perhaps she will find as well, the big lights and rush of the city isn't her cup of tea.  I think she might.  It is, however, her decision to make.   I'll miss her when she goes, as I sit on my small porch with my big dog and listen to the birds sing.  While I watch the seasons change, content in knowing not only is home where the heart is….. but forever in one's heart home remains.

I am a writer, a student, a teacher, a philosopher, a parent, a child. All of these components have been essential in creating the woman writing to you today. Everyone has a purpose in life, be it huge or minor. We all have a role to play. Mine is to help others along the way, regardless of the Path they are called to follow. My students come to me of their own will, adapt my teachings to their own experiences and move on when they are ready. To my thoughts, this is exactly as it should be.


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