Friday, June 17, 2011

Thinking About Modern Life and Small Towns are Better!

Today I saw this article...

"A Glimmer of Hope"

Over the past several days, that is exactly what I had the privilege to do. I have often written about how the "America" that so many of us love is fading away, but in many small towns throughout the United States that "America" is still very much alive. The truth is that there are millions of Americans that still place a tremendous amount of value on God, family and country. My wife and I are accustomed to big city ways, and so we were amazed at how friendly and how open the people that we encountered during our travels were. A lot of times the elitists that run this country look down their noses at those that live in rural communities and small towns, but the reality is that those are some of the greatest people this country has.

I agree with him. I got to live the small town rural life, and I miss it quite a bit. I visit as much as health allows and have kept in touch with friends there, but I will say this being circus lady fat is far easier in a laid back rural mecca, then in our go-go cities where things are far closed down, impersonal and everything about matching the status quo. In fact recently while things are never perfect for those in the highest stratospheres of weight, I was spoiled while living there. Big cities are far harder on the very fat, trust me on that.

Seeing Amish women at the library, is a bit nicer then walking down the street wondering if you are going to be mugged. Hey I can't run, remember that! OK where I live presently is not THAT bad, but it is far more urban, and I don't think I am going to get over the culture shock of rural vs. modern urban anytime soon. The connections are not here even between other people. Life is so closed down. When I was out at the local suburban large grocery store with my husband, I said, "What is with these people they do not look like they are shopping for groceries, but being herded into a prison camp, the expressions on the faces were so vacant, so depressed, no one smiled." OK I know I'm not the most perky person out there but I at least smile once in a while. I said to husband, "Do you realize while we were going about shopping, smiling and joking a few times, that we did not fit the norm?" He said, "Yeah I noticed too." Sometimes I think my old small behind the times town, has ruined me for many other places. Not to say things were perfect there either, the economy is doing even worse things to rural areas, but it really all made me think.

My ten years escape from the big city where I worked in social work with troubled teenagers before I was disabled immersed in the worse aspects of big city life, public transportation and work in the worse ghettos and all, to a small country rural town saved my life. I really believe that. One thing endocrine collapses brought on by stress, removing same stress helps.

Economics forced us here, and economics are keeping me here. Some said many your nostalgia is misled, but I know when I was back couple months, returning to the peace and quiet and friendlier people actually brought tears to my eyes, of HAPPINESS. So when the author of the link above writes:

My wife and I have also found that people in small towns are so much friendlier. Everywhere we went people were saying hello and were eager to get into conversations. We ended up talking with one hotel clerk for 15 to 20 minutes and he shared with us much of his life story. He was a real "salt of the earth" type of guy and it was interesting to hear his unique perspective on life. Every summer he makes jam and sells it in the hotel lobby and he encouraged us to stop by the next time we are in town to get some.

But he was not the only one that was extremely friendly. People were eager to talk to us and were genuinely interested in what we were doing wherever we went
I have lived that, and it was interesting to note that the people talk to each other more, there was more sharing. Now every area including the rural areas are being impacted, economic changes stripping away at these things, serious unemployment, Walmart having stripped many small businesses clean from our small towns and severe societal problems with meth or what have you, but I have lived the difference between a giant metro city, large cities and a small rural town, and would take the small town over the others any day. In other words in my early 30s, I got glimpses of a life, that seemed far far better. Where there still seemed to be some meaning to life beyond "fitting in". In the smaller places, there still are vestiges of what the Bowling Alone guy called COMMUNITY.

Call me nostalgia, nuts, not in touch with the times, and maybe you escaped your rural town and would never go back, but all of my experiences have led me to see these things in a differ net way.

I think America is getting fatter because the social connections are withering, life spent at desks and before screens just isn't as active of a life where people are together and doing things. Stress is far far higher and its not the acute stress of being chased down by a wolf or bear like maybe a pioneer would have suffered, but more acute low grade stress that may even take a greater toll. We do not have the same social contacts. Even if one keeps in touch, and visits people or gets visited, living far away from everyone you care about takes a toll. Some say "Move Home" but for many there is no home, everyone has cut loose to the ends of the earth. I found myself saying to someone the other day, DO WE HAVE ROOTS ANYMORE?

People now instead of finding meaning in life via God, or fellow human beings, family and having a niche in society no matter how small, are being relegated to scrambling to the top of the trash heap, trying to be the biggest, baddest, richest, whatever and everyone that fails to get to the upper tiers, is now called a "loser" seen as half a human being. My experience being disabled, has told me that happens to many folks out there where social isolation grows and things get tough. They get cast aside, it is scary to watch. In a world that grows more dog eat dog, things get tougher.

I know to survive today people have to work hard, I worked 60-70 hours a week before I was disabled so I get that piece. And look at me, our household had to move to economically survive rather then end up on a relatives doorstep. But are we all losing something? Aren't many things being lost as everyone gets squeezed from the top? If I was 20 and healthy again, I would take up organic farming and "drop out", my friends shake their heads, and laugh, you always have seen so many things differently fivehundredpoundpeep but it's true. Lets examine this life style of soul-less strip malls, endless traffic jams, go go go tasks and busyness, crazy work hours and living far away from those we love. Sometimes I think the Amish have to be laughing at us, who needs it all?

At one recent group I was able to get to, because the weather cooled down, one lady said "No one works harder then Americans now". I couldn't tell if she was proud of this, or despairing of it. Yeah we do out distant Japan now.

Remember in the 80s, when we got told they were dropping dead of heart attacks they worked so hard, well Americans [well those with jobs] are now outdistancing them. I've seen myself the destruction of LEISURE for people since the 1970s. I don't blame the people who have to work so hard, I remember even once working 4 jobs [nope I am not making that up, they were all part time] to keep a roof over my head but life is losing something.

One thing about modern life, everything seems to be becoming so dead, so closed down, so vacant, so CONFORMIST. Maybe something is off about someone middle aged, wishing they were born 50 years earlier, but modern life is getting weird. Everything good seems to be eroding. The American dream is dying. I am scared for the future that awaits our young people.

I do try, I think "I am disabled not dead". Even if a lot of time, I am housebound, I go out and get involved in poetry shows, have had acouple art shows in the past years, even trying to connect with the vast array of the more disconnected people in these parts, visit the too far away relatives who all live in different areas when weather is moderate and my health allows it.

But I think standing outside of the busy circus of life where I am a bystander I suppose due to my circumstances from afar, has brought many different questions to my mind. I wish more people would step back and question things. With the fat question, environment counts a lot and our environments aren't so good anymore.


  1. You have some very good insights and write very well!
    But I live in a small town that is not friendly and is snobby.You can get gossiped about at the local library.My husband and I call it the town crier.You can also get scapegoated...I did.
    But I'm sure it is still better than the city you lived in.
    My brother is a paramedic in the middle of a few cities and say's most of his calls are drug related now. Even murders.
    This is different than even ten years ago for him.
    I had a garden and loved gardening.It was my favorite thing ever. But I got Lyme disease and there are so many tick born illnesses now that I'm afraid to risk going out there.
    I am sorry about all your health problems and everything you are grieving about. I'm not as ill as you,but I am ill and somewhat housebound,so I do understand some.I was also ill before the lyme, it just pushed me over the edge.
    I know how frustrating it can be to try to do everything right and still be beaten down.
    Also, I have intestinal problems now and you would think you would lose weight,but no,I gained it?I don't think doctors or most people understand weight..
    So,I'll keep reading about your site and comment here and there, Sorry if it's not when you wrote things..
    I hope things get better for you and you have some stable happy times.I understand always waiting for the next shoe to drop.. It's horrible..And stressful. No one should have to live that way..I often do ,and tend to not trust the fleeting moments of happiness. Maybe it is just life for some of us.Especially deeper sensitive types.
    I believe stability is really important.
    Keep on writing.Your very good at it!
    Peace to you.

  2. Thanks for your compliments. Sorry your small town is not friendly. I live in a small town too though not as small as the last and it's not that friendly, people are harder to get to know here. It's small enough the clerks and others are nice, but they all have lived here forever and have family and tight knit groupings. It's wealthier too so I don't fit in. My last small town is going to seed from the demise of the economic. The kind older people I was friends with are dying off or so ill I lost contact with a couple and they are probably in the nursing home. The young people with no stability and jobs are turning to drugs and not with same outlooks. I was last there in 2011, and could see the growing poverty and an edge that was not there. Yeah drugs are growing and crime too in small towns and big cities. This one is safe being wealthier and a resort town but even here, you see empty buildings all over the place and the encroaching edge I saw in the other place is here.

    Thanks regarding my grief and illness, sorry you are facing health problems too and houseboundness. Lyme can be a devestating illness too. Yeah false promises trying to do everything right and they still squash you.

    I think they are so wrong about weight its not funny. I puked during most of 2013 and lost so little. So I have seen that people unable to eat and gaining weight. To the brainwashed we are pigging out every minute. I have to count every portion in here, food is so expensive, I even saved a small quarter piece of chicken breast to make soup with for lunch.
    Thanks keep commenting. I answer older stuff too. I hope things get better for you too.

    Yeah it feels like happiness is fleeting, doesn't it. I think a lot just close down and no longer care. If you still care and are sensitive, life is far harder.

    Thanks regarding my writing too. Welcome to the blog

  3. Thanks! I had the stomach flu at least three times last winter and I didn't lose one pound..I basically spent from the first of February to the end of march sick to my stomach..
    I would love to have a blog, but I write so poorly. Which is ironic,since my high school english teacher wrote a book on grammar..

    1. Weight loss being something to do with calories is broken in my mind. I even have lost weight when I've had more food. I ate something like 400 calories at least one day just blood sugar maintenance food, and according to the CICO "math" how many calories does it take to maintain a 500lb body. I took two showers--[its something I do when sick unless I am almost dead]-and had to get up and down to go to the bathroom at least 15-20 times so there was "exercise", wouldnt there be a few lbs lost?

      Hey do a blog but don't worry about writing skill, some of that will build up with practice.