Light (and dark) side of small towns

334_28045180546_1656_nYou can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in. ~Arlo Guthrie

Believing only in light and in the sun that drenches us more than 300 days a year in an attempt to avoid the shadows of real life distorts the real life we lead. An integral view of darkness and light, understanding them as “dependable companions” is especially necessary in small towns. If one thinks that there are no darks forces in small towns, just a bunch of shiny happy people in beautiful little quaint shops, disillusion will quickly seep in. I have seen many folks move to our Town in hopes of some bucolic place. They leave shortly thereafter scarred and scared at the existence of the dark side of living in with rural life.

Rural towns are places with big skies. My place, high in the desert mesa at the base of the mountains, is a place where vertigo is a part of a day simply because of the sheer size and scope of the landscape. And when it’s light, it can be scorching, dry and brutal. But at night, the coldness can be -20, and without the moonlight it can be difficult to see your hand in front of your face. Either can kill you. The contrast is one to remember. The contrast is and integral part of life.

To live in a rural area is to remember the balance of things and to make very conscious choices to embrace the good and deal with the challenges. Nationally rural areas have the biggest burden of poverty and the lowest access of educational resources. We have difficulty accessing health care. And we are a diverse bunch of hardy folks who are not necessarily always happy. We live within a set of contrasts that become part of us, and change us. We integrate the extremes into our lives and those extremes become more normal. Good or not, if one cannot embrace extremes and find your way through the maze in the middle, the southwest can be a very disillusioning space. But embrace the spectrum and there is more fullness and experience then one can take in.

We each make that choice.

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