Wednesday Word: Wanting to Be Here
“You lived in Montana. How did you do it?” – Question posed to me by one of the J2A teens as we flew over Montana.
When the question was asked, I thought maybe he had fallen into the old trap of thinking people in Montana (and the West, for that matter) still had to hunt and gather food, fight off hostile attacks, and rub two sticks together to make fire. So I cautiously answered him, “Ummm . . . in a house . . .”
“No, I mean, there's nothing out there. How did you do it?”
He had lived his whole life here in the eastern US. He had been camping to get away from it all, or as part of a Boy Scout week. But those were times away and temporary. Flying over the vast, mostly empty plains of the Dakotas and eastern Montana, the question bubbled up in his mind, “How could anyone actually live there?” So he asked the only person he knew who had actually done it.
Granted, I lived in a town of 700, with Dillon (pop. 4,200) only about 40 minutes around the mountain, Butte just an hour up the road, and Bozeman about 90 minutes from home. So it wasn't quite like living in Birney (pop. 106), as there were other places more remote. But he now had some idea of PLACE when I said I lived in Montana for six years.
This reminded me of the book Dakota, by Kathleen Norris. In that book she talks about living in western North Dakota and all that entails. There's a part in the book where she says, “But people do live here, and many of them will tell you in all honesty that they wouldn't live anyplace else . . . People will ask, 'How do you do it?'” That teenager was asking me the same question that Ms. Norris recorded people asking.
The answer she gives to that question is that people want to be there. You can't live in a town of 106, or 450, or 700 with limited resources and hours until the next big city unless you want to live there. The answer to that teen was that, for 6-1/2 years, I wanted to live there.
As I thought about this – both the question on the plane and the quote from Dakota – I realized that we may or may not want to be where we are. We may be somewhere because that's where our parents live, or that's where the job is, or that's where the spouse needs to be, or whatever. But wanting to be in a place makes being there more of a good thing than not.
We are all in both different places and the same places. What are some good things about the place you are that bring you joy or solace or excitement? What are some things you see or feel that can make you say, “I want to be here.”
If we can focus on the good, we will be able to more readily say, “This is a good place. I want to be here.”