Monday, June 8, 2015

The Book of Questions: 004

The Book of Questions (by: Gregory Stock) is just that - a book of questions. The only answers are the ones we, the reader, come up with on our own in isolation or with a group of friends. These are guaranteed to shift the conversation with loved ones in whole new directions. For me, I decided to take it upon myself to slowly, but surely, go through the entire book.  There are 292 questions. This could take awhile.

Question: Ignoring all financial considerations, would you rather spend the next 5 years confined to an urban mecca like New York City, or a beautiful, isolated town on the California coast?

It's difficult to pinpoint which one I would prefer. If you would have asked me a year or two ago I would have, without hesitation, said an isolated town. As I hope my teaching career is winding down and my writing one will soon launch into orbit, I actually have to stop and think about this one.

When I gave a brief testimony in front of my church I shared how for the first several years - as much as my wife and I enjoyed being there - we would walk in, worship then walk out. We didn't say a word to anyone. Then I attended a men's retreat. The best thing about this retreat was the Friday night tail-gating games. That's all we did Friday night and it was a great way to kickoff the weekend because it was through friendly competition I began forming friendships. My point is this: Being a writer will hopefully give me opportunities to speak to audiences so I need that connection to people. Plus, I want to know people's stories. In a big city there are many stories and many people that have stories the world needs to access. On the other hand, when I write, I enjoy isolation. So, where would I want to spend my five years? Let's see..

The City

A city provides a unique environment where the hustle and bustle of life is an all-day, all-night affair. A stranger can become a friend in the time it takes you to eat a street vendor's hot dog. Streets are impregnated with opportunities. Billboards, street signs and advertisements hanging in cafes provide you with the option of paving your life's path in a new, adventurous direction. Concerts, Broadway shows and sports games every day of the year leaves you endless choices. Not to mention agencies that are looking for the next great novel. Oh! And let's be sure to mention all the movies that are made in cities such as New York! 

With all the good we must mention the undesirable and unpleasing. Murder comes to mind. Claustrophobia and endless traffic as well. I feel overwhelmed with a lot of people. I need my space. If I'm not the first one to show up, it's very difficult for me to engage in conversation. I have a hunch I wouldn't be the first one to show up in New York. Speaking of conversation...I'm not the best at it. It's considered one of my weaknesses. However, living in the big city could be a cure for that. It's a skill that some people need to learn and being immersed in city-life could serve as a life-long lesson with opportunities for lots and lots of practice. It's a skill, however, that doesn't need to be perfected in order to inspire those around you.

Some people just thrive in the city. It's part of their DNA. It's as natural for them as walking and breathing. I don't feel that yearning to be part of that world. Put me on the top of the New York best-seller list and I'll happy with that.

Isolated Town

I always loved small towns. The idea of them anyway. Movies like Doc Hollywood, Signs, Pleasantville and The Majestic -just to name a few - always appealed to me. There seemed to be more unity among the residents. The friendships more powerful. I do come from a very small high school - graduating class of 142 - and rumors spread like wildfire, reputations nose-dive more quickly than they elevate. But it's the community aspect that corrals my interest and maybe even exacerbates my imagination more than a mecca such as New York would. There's power in numbers. Small numbers.

I would imagine if I were to be "confined" to a small town coastal region for five years that I would still have opportunities to travel and visit the big city, but if not, I would still choose the small town. I like the idea of going into a cafe, plopping my laptop down and writing while being the only person around - other than the waitress that would keep my coffee cup full. Wi-fi and internet would allow plenty of time to "visit" outside of the borders of where I would be most content to be and stay.

Besides, in a small town, I could bring back the one thing that sadly is all but extinct in this day and age. The Drive-In!

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