A few years back, I was told by a woman that I consider a wise and wonderful person that I keep my world small. I think at that moment, I took the comment and thought I would just “work on it.” I wasn’t sure what it meant, but decided to just loll in around and see what came up. I was not defensive, nor did I embrace the comment. I guess you could say, I just held it in my palm to look at occasionally, and as a reminder to step out of my box when the situation presented itself.
As time went on, I sort of forgot the comment. I guess it popped up occasionally, but as life goes, I got busy and put it to the back of my mind. But recently, her comment popped up and I couldn’t get it to go away. I had been contemplating e-mailing her, as I don’t see her too often, to ask her just what she meant by that. Was it bad? My philosopher’s mind was hard at work, holding that statement up to the light, turning it this way and that. It was like when you clean closets and find a beautiful rock that you had found lying at the bottom of a creek bed all shiny and colorful. You pull it out of the corner, look at it in its dry state, and wonder – do I want to keep this? Now why did I save this?
This morning, my son, Alex, was using my laptop. I’ve had it a couple years, so rarely get on my PC where I have years of writing stored in Word. Rather than yank it out from under his nose, I decided to power up the PC. A good opportunity to re-read some of my older writings. I thought maybe some of them might inspire me or remind me of something I’d forgotten. And I was right.
As I searched through the titles, I pulled up a few, read them, then closed them. Then I came upon one titled, Home Is Where The Heart Is. As cliche’ as it sounded, I opened it. I needed to feel all warm and at home.
As I read the piece, I remembered what I had discovered about the big world / small world. So here is that piece. I couldn’t find where I had shared this on my blog before, but if I have, sorry for the repeat. I will note that since the below writing, my son is married, working as an auto technician and living in the city (with the country in his heart.) My daughter has moved back to her favorite city – a bigger city than our hometown, but with that smaller town feeling. (She, too, carries country in her heart.)
Home Is Where the Heart Is (written in December 2008)
I spent most of my life feeling that this small town was just a loser’s place to live. And if my children wanted to have a life or make a decent living, they needed to move to the city – get away from here! So they did.
I pushed my oldest son out of the nest when he was just turning 21. I thought it would do him good to move to the city, to see what all there was out there, to broaden his horizons – and to let go of my apron strings (and for me to let go of him). So, begrudgingly, he moved to Indy. My thoughts were that he would continue his schooling, get his degree and learn to be independent. Needless to say, it didn’t quite go that way immediately, but a couple years later, he is about to get his certification from a technical school, and is engaged to be married.
It wasn’t the way I had it planned in my head, but it is working for him, and that is what counts. But truthfully, I don’t see that the big city benefited him in any way.
My daughter got her education and moved to Indy where she makes barely enough to pay her living expenses and make her student loan payments. I thought that at least the city might afford her opportunities to broaden her horizons or open up her world. So far, I haven’t seen that happening. She goes to work and pretty much keeps to herself and her roommate. Going out and experiencing the city is too expensive for her means.
My husband and I went to Indy for the weekend. I had a free night’s stay at the Hyatt, and it was his birthday. Plus we needed to do some Christmas shopping. We ended up having a fun time walking around the city, eating at a brewery and seeing the Christmas lights. But as we were sitting there watching the people go by the restaurant, I realized that I had put a lot of glory into the city life. It was something I had never experienced, but always felt had to be better than the small life we live in our small town.
I watched the cars, the people all dressed up and trying to impress, the hustle and bustle of it all and realized that I am quite happy that I do not have to deal with that every day. Everything there is more expensive, which makes experiencing the city and utilizing all that it has to offer more difficult.
I realize that small living is in the person. You can be stuck in a little hicktown and let that limit your possibilities, or you can live in a big city and do the same thing. Living big or living small is really a matter of whether or not you step out of the box and experience who you are. It is a feeling. It is about reaching your potential. But more than anything, I think it is about learning to like who you are, no matter where you are.
It feels good to know this. To know that I don’t have to have a high executive job, wear black every day, drive a fancy car or fight traffic jams in order to feel important or fulfilled. And now that I’ve shoved my children off to the city to seek out a dream I never fulfilled for myself, I hope they find that small town contentment, the feeling of purpose and fulfillment (that took me forty years of looking outward for) within. Inside is where it is. Not in the cars, the black trenchcoats, the tattoos or the Mercedes-Benzs. It’s not dependent upon your location or occupation. No, it is only found though letting go of all that and realizing that when they say, “Home is where the heart is,” they are not talking about a place. It is a feeling. A feeling inside. And I’m happy to say, “I’ve found my way home.”