A lot has happened since I moved to GR. At first, I mourned Portland, a city I believed would be my final destination. Next, it was learning to call Grand Rapids home. Now, it’s realizing how living in a small town requires rethinking my approach.
In an unforeseen series of circumstances, I find myself in a situation I would never have imagined. I’m still not quite certain how I became embroiled in all of it. However, in the immediate aftermath (today is the day after), I feel hopeful.
I’m beginning to remember that the world is bigger than Grand Rapids, and that despite my lack of mobility, there are ways to leave. Books, poetry, news, advocacy, writing… I have things such as biking and swimming to call my own, but none of those take me out of Grand Rapids.
Ground-up issues are more immediate, but not always more legit; every once in a while, there’s something to be said for broader issues that trickle down to the local level. I have been uneasy about how to participate on a national level because it can feel like an excuse for passive action, such as joining a FB group as protest; too easy. I live my life on that local level, but I’m reminded of how important it has always been to me to feel connected on a far wider scale.
It’s odd realizing what you take for granted when you’re accustomed to more cosmopolitan areas. I’ve always been accustomed to being open because whether it’s dirty doesn’t come up when you don’t have to worry about people’s curiosity. Here, niceties are actually formalities and not necessarily genuine questions only asked when time can be spared. I may have a new-found sense of hope from rediscovering the bigger world, but I know I have some things to work through:
- Figure out where the line is between being open and gossiping (even about yourself).
- Be on guard against the big fish syndrome.
- It’s better to discuss things rather than people.
- Never overlook your responsibility for your words and actions, but after a certain point, you aren’t accountable for other people’s impressions.
- Identify turns of phrase that give the speaker carte blanche (i.e.: That’s human). Be wary of those who use them and, in turn, avoid using them like the plague.