Life in the Burg: “The Perfect Place” Vol. 3 Art. 1
I have to admit, Life in the Burg is a strange animal. I can go on for days with stories of neighbors helping neighbors, community members sacrificing so much of what they have to try and assure a positive future for our village, and so on. But there are times when this environment tests your appreciation for it.
I have lovingly named this phenomenon the Small Town Reality Check. I realize it could use a better title, but there it is. And it often occurs right after some event leaves you thinking that life can’t possibly be any better outside of the 68652.
I think most people feel pretty neutral about others unless they’ve been directly impacted by a behavior to make them form a legitimate opinion. That’s really hard to do in a small town. It’s quite possible that the words, “Did you hear about…” are the most commonly used words in rural America. Over time, I think we’re conditioned to listen to the gossip and then forget about it shortly after. Who has the mental capacity to keep up with it? But when it starts eating at you…that’s a Small Town Reality Check. The only solutions I can come up with include staying at home and shutting off my technology, or escaping town for a few days.
It also occurs when you actually muster up enough courage to say no to volunteering. Or, when you volunteer for too many things and one of them slips your mind. A few years ago, I showed up to an event after forgetting that I had signed up to help. I was more than put in my place in front of my family, and anyone else within earshot. (And my friends wonder why I keep two calendars!)
Finally, the Small Town Reality Check happens when you’re experiencing burn out. I thought I knew what burn out is, but in a small town that works so diligently on remaining relevant, it takes on a whole new meaning. If a strange sense of fatigue overcomes you at the thought of kick off meetings, you have burn out. If you have at least one meeting scheduled after 6 pm, nearly every night of the week, you’re going to experience burn out. And, if during an event you helped plan, your adrenaline is so high that you seriously think you could run a marathon at that very moment…you either put too much Red Bull in your drink, or you’re on the verge of burn out.
During these moments, it is possible to sit and question your life choices. Maybe living within arms-reach of your neighbors is better. Maybe sitting in traffic for thirty minutes every morning is awesome. Then again, maybe not. Instead, ride out the wave of emotions that range from frustration to anger to confusion and finally, acceptance. Depending on the situation, it may even become funny. And all of these situations should be laughed about. After all, if we lived in a town that was perfect in every way, we’d all be very bored.