Since living in Waco, I have had some time to look back and reflect on my time living in America’s crossroad – Oklahoma. Many look at the Sooner State and take pity on those of us who have lived there for a portion of our life, but I have come to have an appreciation of my home state since leaving. For a few different reasons, I want to explain why I think living in Oklahoma (or perhaps states like Kansas, Missouri, or Nebraska) can provoke us to be even more adventurous and inspired than our “lucky” friends living in vacation destinations.
Reason 1: Flexibility. We are, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere in Okie land. But, being in the middle is key. From Oklahoma City (central of the state) you’re about 20 hours from LA, 10-12 from Colorado, and about 16-17 from the east coast. These are tough drives to make, but they are all doable. If you like a good road trip like I do, living in Oklahoma is the dream. And, even if it is just a weekend trip you’re after, Kansas City or the Ozarks of Arkansas are short drives away. The point I’m trying to make is this – There is nowhere you can’t go living in Oklahoma.
Reason 2: Desperation/Lack of Options. As I stated earlier, there isn’t much to do in Oklahoma. We don’t have the Rockies, or the white sand of Florida to bring people into our state. All Oklahoma boasts are its casinos, some hills near Lawton, and a very large Mesa in the Northwest corner of the state. If you’ve lived here long enough, you know the feeling of desperation and desire to get out and see the world! To me, this feeling is a blessing rather than a curse. If, instead, I lived in Maine surrounded by beautiful scenery and a pure natural landscape, I don’t think I’d want to leave! There is a reason people like Stephen King move there – its gorgeous. However, living in such a beautiful place can also be restrictive. In Oklahoma, I quickly grow tired of flat plains and oil drills, so I make an effort to always find ways to go and see what other states have to offer. All of this is not to say that Oklahoma is not a great state. There are plenty of natural beauties in the state to enjoy, but none are of the magnitude that other states offer.
It is easy, especially as someone who loves to travel, to pack up and move to a state that offers great attractions. But, I think there is something to be said about establishing a home base in a state like Oklahoma. It keeps us going. It keeps us remembering the vastness of the world around us and the abundance of beauty this country has to offer.
Oklahoma is what a home ought to be. A place that doesn’t draw us in with flashy big-city lights or massive mountains but a place that is deeply rooted in community and values. People rarely relocate to Oklahoma for this very reason. It is hard to get a sense of this communal kindness unless you have lived in a similar place. People who come to understand this kindness miss it once they leave. I miss it now.
We forget how special something is when we are around it all of the time. For me, this is missing the kindness and simplicity of Oklahoma, yet, I thirst for the mountains. I can see how it may be the opposite for someone in Colorado or a similar state. The message is the same for either – don’t forget what makes home so special and continue traveling to see what makes other people’s home so special.
Love your roots and extend your branches. To me, this is how we grow.