I’ll tell you what is wrong with the geography in our area. It’s flat. You cannot see anything from here, except…HERE.
I’m a mountain girl at heart, even though I’ve literally grown up at the beach. There is something about being able to see something above you, to gauge your progress by comparing it to something that is bigger…higher… than yourself. I pine for a good valley, to be able to see the mountains all around me, and know that they will be there tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.
Here, I see trees. Above that, nothing. Even the mountains that we can see from here are so far away that they are merely adornments to the distant horizon. You can travel, and yet, see no change in the scenery. The same can be said of many locations. Southern Idaho comes to mind, where you seem to stand still for hundreds of miles.
That’s what I’m talking about. Standing still, making no progress. The actual view is symbolic of the culture of a small town. It’s comfortable. It’s home. And in many respects, idyllic. However, it limits the view somewhat. Our young people see here…and only here. They do not have a vision of the world outside, because they seldom see it from here.
I was honored to have chaperoned a number of groups of small town children to Space Camp a few years ago. What an incredible experience for them, and for me! The one thing that struck me about the program is that it opened so many avenues for our children. They were able to see and learn about so many varied occupations, as NASA has a vast array of needs. Even if they were not particularly interested in space, itself, they saw a larger world out there.
It’s critical to their development to know that they can do anything. They need to see beyond the local economy, and into the realm of possibility. I believe that a good education in a large university is imperative, but it’s difficult to accomplish that in today’s economy. They need to have that vision long before they submit their college applications, so that they will have a strong enough drive to achieve that they can escape the gravitational pull of their own small town.
It was difficult, when I left to go to school. Living in a small town is wonderful. You know everyone, and they know you. You become comfortable with those around you, and a little anxious about new situations. You just rarely have to experience them! But I’m grateful for that experience.
I think that the key lies in the ability to give them wings, while providing deep, sturdy roots. To push them out of the nest, so to speak. To provide that inspiration to fly. If they do, and then return, they’ll be wiser, stronger, and in a position to CHOOSE to stay in the small town. They will not be there simply by default.
Don’t get me wrong, the vistas from our shores are exquisite. The cool sea breeze, the soft sand between your toes. There are plenty of folks who yearn for this, and yet, I take it for granted.
I think that it’s easy to get caught with this manner of thinking as an adult, too. We see only the day to day aspects of our lives, and we forget that there is a big wide world out there. There are things to see, things to do, and most of all…things to LEARN. We have to go to find it, because it won’t come to us. And we can’t see it from here.
I have a theory as to why I am so enamored of the mountains, but in this instance, it is vision and aspiration that I see in them. They tower above us, regal, unmoving. They urge us to scale them, to reach upward and arrive at some peak in triumph. They give us hope that someday, we can be higher – better than we are today.
And I want to climb!