For the years I have lived on my own I never purchased cable TV or satellite. In fact, unless a roommate force-recommended I sit down and watch a movie with them, I rarely did even that. I've always felt sluggish and wasteful sitting in front of a plastic screen.
When I was growing up, my mother's favorite response to her children's boredom was, "You're only bored if you choose to be bored."
While I assume I directly took this phrase to heart, I also wonder sometimes if perhaps I have an irrational phobia... "The Fear of Being Bored."
I googled the phrase a couple of times and found nothing, yet I'm not convinced it isn't out there somewhere. I've noticed that even when I do have plans with someone or something, I almost always have a back-up plan in the back of my head. For instance, if Julie and I make plans Friday night to get ice cream and go out to a movie in a nearby town, I immediately make "just in case" plans in my head that would include meeting a separate circle of friends at a restaurant across town. And I guess it goes into 3rd and 4ths sometimes too. Like, "if all else fails I will finish my book that evening."
In fact, it didn't occur to me that this might be abnormal until I was planning out my weekends from January-March when I realized that on January 15, there is a very small percentage of people who care what they are doing on the weekend of March 22. I guess I have always wanted to make the most out of life. I'd hate to look back and realize I sat at home watching TV all weekend when I could have been at a rodeo 15 miles away. There is always something to do. Events are always happening and friends are always nearby. As if that weren't enough, I am one of the lucky few to have a packed family schedule as well. Between birthdays and holidays I find that I sometimes have to purposely break away in order to get any other socializing done.
When I moved back to my humble hometown a few months ago, I was severely worried about one thing. In fact it may have been the only thing that worried me. In a town that size with that little to offer young people, what will I ever do with myself? I'll be bored to tears after the first month---and I'm an optimist!
Little did I know how wrong I was. Since moving back to Frederick I have crossed an unbelievable amount of things off of my bucket-list. Some of these have involved traveling while several were accomplished inside city limits!
In January I helped plan and execute a fairly large event. I sat next to a keynote speaker at a head table and designed a program brochure. I also participated in my first art show and gave a presentation at a local civic group meeting.
By February I was voted on a regional board for tourism, organizing and directing a craft show, and making all sorts of fabulous discoveries about people who craft for a living. I bought a fondue set (a bucket list item,) as well as a dreamcatcher (another bucket item.) I also shook the governor's hand and sold my first print as an artist!
In March I took two trips that I had aimed at completing this year. First Lubbock to visit one of my favorite artist's galleries--Tornado Alley--then to Santa Fe, New Mexico to snowboard and purchase a fabulous print from a local artist down there. (Turns out he was originally from Southwest Oklahoma!) Of course, my favorite stop was Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo.
This month I have seen a very popular Red Dirt band in a nearby town, participated in a Fun Run, shot a bow and arrow as well as a shotgun, and experienced "gooseknocking" for the first time. A woman who has a coliseum named after her came and spoke to my hometown, I visited the most captivating of farms, one of lavender, and saw all of my favorite friends come home for Easter Sunday.
While it's true that several of these events were outside of the specified city limits, it is also true that besides the Lubbock and Santa Fe trips, everything else took place in Southwest Oklahoma--with a majority of it being inside Frederick, Oklahoma.
This all hit me the other day when I realized how wrong I was about not wanting to move back for fear of boredom. In fact, in the last two weeks I participated in a wine and palette type event (which I wanted to do for years when I was in the city,) and took a nutritious cooking class. I have also joined a bootcamp (another bucketlist ticket) and started running again. All four of these things happened in Frederick, Oklahoma!
Moving to rural Oklahoma initially had me mourning the loss of a community Hobby Lobby, fortunately I found a small mom and pop called Thayer Rags, located less than 1 block from my office. With less than $10 I designed my own dreamcatcher and found a great place to buy biker do-rags at!
Of course there will always be the small pleasures that give me euphoria. I had a down period when I realized Goodwill was an hour away and so was my favorite used bookstore. The very next day I walked into Trendy Thrift (next door to my office) and learned they gladly welcomed donations. I then stumbled into the local library for business reasons, only to find my favorite author and a plethora of her writings smiling back at me on a shelf with my name on it. Not only that--but they still had my library card from who knows when--when I was much smaller and could easily be caught walking and reading a book at the same time.
All this to say--SHAME ON US FOR SHAMING SMALL TOWNS. As much as I am gung-ho for promoting local businesses and thriving on rural America, I admit it has taken me a while to find my big-city alternatives. (Fortunately, I'm not a Starbucks fan.) It does make me wonder though, do all of our citizens utilize these local outlets, or are they still driving out of town for the so-called "fabulous finds" that just so happen to be in the gift shop around the corner.
Is wasting gas still worth it for the over-processed chain restaurant meal, or could we just as easily be satisfied--no, MORE satisfied--if we opened our eyes to the local restaurant down the street that has a Thursday night Steak Special (who knew!)
Small Town, America is great for many reasons, and with the rise of trends like "vintage," "organic," and "hand-made," I believe now is a greater time than ever to capitalize on what we do have rather than what we don't.
Who wants to drive out of town to support a corporate giant with mega problems when they can walk 200 yards and invest their money in a couple/friend's financial stability?
Most importantly--we must stop making up excuses for not being good enough or exciting enough for young people. The fear of being bored in a small town is completely irrational!
You're only bored if you choose to be bored.
That phrase has withstood the change of time. Meditate on the wisdom of that when you are tempted to belly-ache about the lack of movie theatres in your hometown.