A Quiet Mind and Sunday...
I used to think that I wanted to live "the creative life," you know, surrounded by like-minded people, all creating, all thinking on a different plane...turns out they'd all be pissing me off. Who in their right mind wants to be surrounded with turds slinging intellectual superiority and look-at-me individuality? Not me. Gimme Detroit. Gimme small rural Ontario. Gimme the rarified air of accidental culture and creative living for the sake of creative living, you know, the kind that only happens when no one is watching. I could move to Brooklyn permanently...and aside from cursing the occasional city dwellers innate brand of aloofness, I'd probably be very happy. I could live in Southern California...and despite being perpetually reminded that I'm not from that strange universe, I could find dizzying contentedness without much difficulty. Living anywhere but where I do would surely provide the kind of stimulation that a creative life demands, but here's the rub...I don't give a $#&% about any of that...not really. I give a $#&% about being myself, and about figuring this place (planet) out, and about getting better as I get older, learning more about myself, and about why I'm here...I give a $#&% about getting this one life right. Palm trees and skyscrapers are distracting. I'll take them in giant gulps, but when the day is done I want to rest my weary mind in quiet places with quiet people.
I like it here. If you can wholly be yourself amoungst rows of leaning corn...if you can be some version of someone's cool somewhere here in the middle of nowhere, well, haven't you really done something? Isn't that the muted glory of an oasis like Ann Arbor, fertile and forward thinking in the shadow of the shrinking and hemorrhaging middle class of North America? If you can figure just one secret out, solve one illusive problem, cure one ill, or save even just yourself from some evil, all here amid rusted farm implements and factories, from the nourishment of your parents assembly line incomes, haven't you achieved something spectacular? If you can find inspiration from the rusted water towers and distant church steeples...from the empty store fronts and the cracked highways between fractured factory towns, haven't you managed something inspiring? I suspect it doesn't take much authenticity or inspiration to make something out of what some urban landscape might offer, but to stitch together anything at all from the nothingness that so many might attribute to middle America, well isn't that something?
Strangely enough, for those of us that choose to live smack dab in the middle of this continent it's no secret that it's a long way from nothingness. What I've found here is an attention to the things that matter most, those things that are often obscured in other, less nurturing environs. I've stumbled toward the conclusion that I belong here, that I can spend my days focusing on daughters and a wife, or that I can stay connected to people, and even infuse new love and life into old friendships, or make vibrant ones that were once less polished. Here I can figure out who I am and then go out and get really good at it. It's hard to hide here, not without the neighbors talking. I'd gladly take a shot at Brooklyn, and give me Orange County for just a year or two, but in the end my heart would be here...staring across the ocean-like expanse of a Great Lake each summer...in Ann Arbor on an Autumn Saturday...praying for a gentle winter...pining for a March getaway to sun...My heart would be here were there is still the occasional factory whistle or freighter horn, and where finding yourself amoungst all this corn is a victory all in itself. In the past I had only asked myself where I wanted to live, but it's only been just recently that I've started asking myself how.