City or Country?
June 2, 2007
My life is here in the suburban realm of Virginia Beach yet I often imagine moving to the western part of the state and enjoying the space of country living. I don’t like the traffic here but I can visit any number of vegetarian restaurants. In a smaller town I’ll never see gridlock but most likely the diner around the corner will mainly offer beef, chicken and fried foods. Yes I’m over-generalizing though I do think there is a hint of truth in these assumptions.
More people amassed in one area allows for a greater expression of the human experience. Here in the city I can attend the religious services of many different faiths and partake in activities that would be hard to find in a more rural setting. I have access to organic produce, yoga classes and high speed internet. There are many more jobs in my field and the pay is greater. But I do know what I am missing….
This picture is from Mcaphee Knob near Roanoke Virginia. Yes there is a lot to be missed when you decide to congregate around large groups of people. That space outside can help to create a bit of space inside that mind that gets so wound up in the modern routine. When the pace slows down a new perspective is afforded.
In 2002 I spent three months hiking on the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Pennsylvania. I won’t go into too much detail here (Wonderful!) though I would like to share a memory that captures that city/country divide.
One morning I woke up to a blanketing mist that soaked my tent with dew and widened my eyes to the quiet trees hidden in shrouds of white. I’d been hiking in Virginia for about a month and looking forward to Harper’s Ferry a few days walk ahead. The morning fog seemed to hush all of the inhabitants of the forest and I marveled at the silence that leapt from my surroundings into my heart. What serenity! After a time I fished out my little AM/FM radio, put in my earphones and flipped through the fuzziness to see what the outside world could offer this peaceful jaunt. I’d noticed the day before that I could pick up a few radio stations from Washington D.C. and this morning I again found a clear signal.
“We have a back-up on the beltway around the state line and you can expect an hour delay going into the city.”
I stopped. The smile upon my face could not be withheld and I stared in amazement at my surroundings as the announcer spoke of this alternate reality. In this moment I could not be touched by the grinding gears of humanity always working towards that next thing. I had no one beeping from behind or slowing my progress down the path.
In the same instant I knew that eventually I would rejoin the masses and find my way to a car that would sit behind other cars during a morning commute. My appreciation of that moment in the misty mountains of Virginia was heightened by my knowing that I had been in that car before and I would return. This precious time allowed for the reflection then and my ponderings now about the choice: city or country?
Perhaps a bit of both sprinkled throughout a lifetime to allow for a fresh inter-mixing of varied flavors.