-watching the sun set and rise
-watching a storm roll in hours away
-wind energy loves flatland
As some of you know, I live in a very flat state. Illinois. I’ve lived here all my life and sometimes, the flat gets a bit old. Some would say that it is the flattest state. Well, you’d be close. We’re number two. Florida? Number one. That’s right. I don’t really get it either. Maybe most of it is under water and that makes it pretty flat. Either way, Illinois is still a proverbial coin. Pretty much as flat as the state quarter we’re printed on.
For most of my life, I have resented in some way, the flatness of this great state. Listed above are some of the marvellous things about our flatness. I think that sometimes, we crave the mountains, hills, canyons, or rivers to the point where our own beauty fades into the background. There’s still beauty in the flatness. Being able to place a lawn chair outside on a tepid summer night and watch our sun disappear into the still horizon is a majestic thing. Likewise, being able to have an unhindered view to the start of a day, viewing a burning sun rise in the east…is a gift. In some topography, you have to hike to see the sunset/rise. You have to hike up a hill/or even a mountain in order to get a clear view of the rise/set. Some would say this is the payoff to the hike. Me? I’ll chuck the chair in the backyard and drink to the end of another day.
Granted, I love hiking. Love. Why do you think I enjoyed living in New Zealand so much? Frankly, watching a sunset on a mountaintop sounds glorious, and I have done this. I’m just saying, to you who are in a “normal” topographical environment, there is good here. Just look.
Loads of other things are easier. Parking. Oh man. Try starting your manual drive car on a steep upward incline and tell me that flatness is overrated. Do it. Running. Flatness is AMAZING when you’re training. Sure, inclines are good to add variety maybe, but for me, nothing can beat the constant, even, plateau that midwest roads/sidewalks give you. When running in NZ, I actually tried to find a flat area to run and became disheartened when there were very few in…running distance. Biking. Same thing. I could bike for miles if given a flat straight-away to disappear on. Farming. Architecture. Wind Farms. All these things rely on good, solid, flat ground. Sure you could build on a hill, but I personally wouldn’t trust a house on a cliff. You can also farm on hills, it just makes it more difficult. Irrigation, plowing, collection, etc.
I guess there is a broader lesson in this. We shouldn’t chase what we don’t have. There is beauty where you are. Being content is a serious discipline. Being content requires control. Once you are, you realize that the things around you start to come into focus. Once distant, vanilla objects suddenly are given vibrancy, life, purpose, and color. We are happier. We are less needy. Less wanty.
If you live in Illinois, or Florida…or Kansas for that matter, find the beauty. It’s there, trust me.
PS: If you still can’t hack it, head here. Plenty to do in this flatland.