There is a song I keep hearing on the radio that makes me laugh, when the singer proclaims, “See, we won’t forget where we came from/
The city won’t change us/We beat to the same drum.” This makes me laugh, because it’s impossible, in a way. It’s true, that something beneath it all can’t possibly change, no matter what the circumstances.
But our perception, our worldview, and all that we think is “us,” should always be changing and evolving.
So, whenever I hear that song, I think of the ways in which the city has “changed” me. It often feels like a lot of life’s lessons are repeating themselves on a new stage, but I am learning from them and growing. I see my tendencies and perceptions everyday, so I really don’t get to look at the “changes,” but I think a lot of my friends up north would be surprised if we had a conversation.
Here are some ways I have “changed” since moving down here:
1. I view race much differently. Up north, you don’t talk about race. Ever It’s the elephant in the room. So, imagine my surprise when my students started talking about skin color like it was hair or eye color! It took me awhile to figure out that this isn’t rude here. Racial differences are a humorous part of the human condition, here. I work in a town where I am a racial minority, and this is surprisingly not a big deal. All it has done is teach me that I did hold subconscious stereotypes, and that they were ALL incorrect. True, there ARE cultural and racial differences, but they aren’t what I assumed they were. And they are beautiful. Every group has something wonderful to add to the tapestry that is our society. And we would do well to learn from everyone. It makes me smile, when Beanie describes her imaginary friends, who are every color of the rainbow. Zoe has “black skin,” and Natalie has “brown skin” and speaks Spanish.
2. I’ve become much more moderate. This is a funny development, as we are living a very extremely minimalistic lifestyle right now. And our neighbors (and best friends) are living similarly to us. (And, yes, we discuss they joys of Not Having a Lot of Stuff!). But, in finding peace for myself, I’m seeing how others are finding peace in having their own homes, with their own fenced in yard. I can see how television shows can make for an easy conversation topic. I can see how different religious beliefs are very important to the journies of those who believe them. (And no less “right” or”wrong” than my own ideas!) I boycott much less, and pretty much don’t get as passionate about causes, in the black-and-white way I used to. Living in a prosperous city and seeing how that changes reality completely, has led to a change in my thinking. I am sure this will be examined and evolve in the future.
3. My driving habits have changed. I am a much more assertive driver, than your average in-the-woods-of-northern-Michigan person. But I’m also extremely courteous. In 6 lanes of traffic, if someone is trying to move from the far left to the far right, you let them in. It’s karma. I don’t look at the speedometer or signs; I just keep up with everyone else. And I love overpasses. I consider it a challenge to find my way to the top one.
4. I spend more time on myself. Maybe it’s because we move here as a part of my journey. But I am absolutely not a martyr now. I take a 30 minute walk every morning. And I get enough sleep every night. I ate 3 high-protein meals a day, and I will soon be joining a health club nearby. Rob also spends a great deal of time on himself, and our family has grown stronger for it.
5. I spend less time online. You may have noticed. But now that I am not trying to escape anything, I’ve become more intentional with my online time. I glance through my newsfeed, catch up on blogs when I can, and write when the muse inspires me. Otherwise, I’m looking at the moon or watching the sunrise.
6. Family time is very important. When I get home, I help Beanie with her homework, listen to her read her take-home book, then practice piano with her. Then, she plays her video games and heads to bed, while Rob and I sit outside and talk, before taking a walk.
Our life has become very focused on our reality, on our here-and-now. This might be something that evolves later, and I’m sure it will be. Life is about learning and growing, and I hope that there is much more of our journey to be discovered.