Places Teach Us

This past weekend, I completed a 3:00:00 training run for a 50-mile ultramarathon that I will attempt in mid-March.

Weird things happen to me while on a long run. I fantasize about food, usually Kroger fried rice. I think back over my childhood. I remember different highlights from sports events I’ve experienced. I think about getting a tattoo. I constantly think that there might be a rock in my sock and the gnarly blister that could develop if I don’t do something about it. I think about TV shows and films at deeper levels, trying to unearth the philosophies that govern their writing.

All of this by a kid who got a 21 on the ACT… after taking it 4 times. Test-taking anxiety… the struggle is real.

On this past run, however, I thought about all of the places where I have lived in my life and how those different places teach us different things. Some people get to stay in the same places their entire lives while the rest of us get the chance to pick up and move and “make something from nothing” or as the theologian would say ex nihilo. Which is a cool term to say with a British accent.

So, here is a brief list of what the different places where I’ve lived have taught me:

Rural Kansas

How to smile! Rural Kansans have tooth-filled smiles that are genuine. And they smile with their eyes. You know what I’m talking about.

Suburban Columbus, Ohio

How to compete! The reason The Ohio State Buckeyes are the Buckeyes is because the buckeye tree is the state tree. Supposedly, as Ohio was being developed, settlers could not kill buckeye trees when trying to remove them from farm ground. O-H!!!!

West Wichita, KS

How to engage! I feel that West-Wichitans look at you in the eyes when speaking. And they strike up conversations with people in public, eager to make a new friend.

Sterling, KS (Sterling College)

How to pray! How to laugh! How to study!

Atlanta, GA

How to drive! The traffic makes for “sink or swim” moments. How to preach! Sharing at Peachtree Presbyterian was a delightful tightrope, so thrilling. How to delight! I enjoyed every get together in Atlanta… it was a suspended space of acceptance and love. Especially weddings.

Memphis, TN (current)

How to dance (even if you can’t)! The music city teaches you how to shoulder- shimmy and nod your head to the beat on the radio. How to doubt (an imperative for a happy-go-lucky kid, like myself). Because… it’s good to have some balance, friends.

Hip Hop artist Lupe Fiasco once said, “That’s how Chi-town made me!”

A place makes us. How has your hometown(s) raised you?

 

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