Driving along a county road in the fall. Looking down the rows of dry stalks of corn ready to be combined. There is something about this place that draws me in. The wide open space, the clusters of trees that I know surround a farm house. The history that is present on every plot of land. It feels like home. I grew up in Iowa, but not this Iowa. I was a city kid, in a town of 25,000. We had all the amenities; grocery stores close by, Target, Sears and Pizza Hut. We even had a mall. But this lure I feel is different. It’s about the slower pace of life. The clear priorities. The clarity. I long for that freeing simplicity.
I live in the wealthiest county in Kansas; which just happens to border the poorest county in Kansas. You might say I live in the land of plenty; or the land of excess. We don’t just have a mall we have enormous shopping areas with the best stores. I drive minutes to get to any cuisine you can imagine. My kids go to fabulous schools with high tech classrooms and the latest in teaching techniques. They also have access to tutors, enrichment activities, private lessons and mind-expanding experiences.
Living here has afforded them opportunities they would not have otherwise had. They sang the national anthem at a major league baseball game with their church children’s choir, they’ve attended and NFL football game and even got tot try on the mascot’s uniform at a special event. They have been to the art museum where they have studied Monet, Picasso and Rembrandt’s works. Their school PTA has provided enrichment activities to give them the edge every parent is looking for.
They also have amazing choices when in comes to extra curricular activities. They are in Boy Scouts, play in their school bands, are active in the church youth group and two of the three play club soccer at the premier level. They have so many ways to be engaged, honing talents, expanding their skills and experiencing life. And that is good.
But there is another kind of good I see when we go back to Iowa. A safe good. A good where they don’t have to be the best to feel valued. Where being a part of the team and giving 100% is enough. A place where good grades doesn’t have to mean top 10 in your class of 450 students. A place where people take vacations every couple years when they can get away; not Summer, over the Holidays and Spring Break to places that require a passport. To say it is a simpler life is demeaning. But it is a simpler life, in a clear and uncluttered way.
And when I travel back home to Iowa. I imagine myself living that clear, simple life. I dream of being able to be the keeper of our domain. Keeping up on laundry, mowing the lawn, helping out family and friends when they need a hand. I envision the slower pace of a life more focused. A life where I have time to blog more than once a month. Where I can fill my time with the things that feed my soul; creativity and family.
The reality is, I would not find contentment in that place. I would long for the endless opportunities I had in the city. The museums to explore – even if I haven’t been to half of them. The many different cuisines to sample – despite my finicky palette. The truth is I love feeling like there is always something new to experience, a new place to go, new people to meet.
I once read a blog (if I could remember whose it was I would give credit) that talked about a quaint little cottage by the beach the author had long dreamt of living in. She came to the realization that it wasn’t about the cottage itself, but the life she imagined she would have if she lived there. It’s not about rural Iowa. It’s about living a more focused life. I dream of a life where there is time for the things that feed my soul.