I’ve always thought my life would be so much grander if I lived somewhere else in the world. I thought if I lived on the busy streets of New York or Chicago that I would be extremely successful and retire a socialite. Or if I lived on the laid back coast of California, I saw myself living a free spirited life that would be filled with friends, sandals, and tans. I don’t live anywhere near either of those places; instead I reside in almost the exact middle of the United States, Joplin, MO.
I blame the weather changing for my sentimental thoughts about my town. Something magical happens when the cool air moves in and the leaves start to change. The same world that you live in every day starts to look and feel a little different. My home starts to feel cozier and I notice things around me that I haven’t before. Change is good, good for the soul.
Living in Joplin for all but a year of my life I could probably tell you almost anything you would want to know about the town. When asked about Joplin I could tell you about the F5 tornado that came through our town 3 years ago, or I could tell you that the best candy in town is at Richardson’s Candy House. I could mention that the absolute best hill to sled down in the winter, Dover Hill, was closed a couple years ago and all local sledders have been devastated since. But, I wouldn’t. I would tell you about the amazing people that live in this town, the people that create some of the best art I’ve ever seen and tell the most engaging stories I’ve ever heard. The top 10 funniest people I have ever met in my life live right here in Joplin. Some of the most influential and amazing nonprofit organizations were born in this town. I would choose to tell you about the amazing company I work for, that expects the highest level of performance from their employees but also allows them the freedom to be themselves. This is what I would tell you about my town.
Sure, there are times that I wished the ocean was just a short jog away, or that I was surrounded by high-rise buildings with powerful people doing powerful things. My life is here, though, and I wouldn’t change a thing about my town. It’s taken me a while to get to a point where I appreciate the quirks of Joplin and the activities, or lack there of, it has to offer. I’ve learned to not waste my time and energy on wishing I was somewhere else, but to instead learn as much as I can about where I am. I want to soak up the life and culture of the place I’m in and use my gifts to help foster creativity and culture that’s here.
Don’t wish for different, but appreciate what is.