Many people think of contemplation in much the same way that they think of flyover country…
“Parts of the United States which many people only see when they fly over them on journeys to the other coast, but which they would never visit.” Cambridge Dictionary
Perhaps it goes without saying that no two people think of flyover country in precisely the same way – being so charged with subjectivity, as it is. I’m also pretty certain that the oft-true warning about within-group variance being greater than between-group variance applies in this case as well. For instance, I used to live in a multimillion person metropolitan area in the middle of flyover country, but I now live just outside of a 15,000 person town in the middle of same. Clearly those are two very different experiences – as are the differences between a big coastal metropolis and one of its tiny satellite villages somewhere between it and the hinterlands. Notwithstanding that reality, however, there will always be the possibility (if not the likelihood) that someone from one of the coasts will fly over the whole vast area in between the east and west coasts whispering the lyrics of Talking Heads’ Big Country under their breath:
I wouldn’t live there if you paid me.
I couldn’t live like that, no siree!
I couldn’t do the things the way those people do.
I couldn’t live there if you paid me to.
Why is that, anyway? What’s so appealing about the hustle and bustle, the endlessly trending cultural developments, the multitude of options for recreation and employment, the wide array of new dining experiences, and the seemingly unlimited opportunities to meet like-minded individuals? Okay, never mind! I really had no intention of convincing you otherwise. But you don’t go to a place full of distractions when you want to devote yourself to contemplation, do you?
It occurred to me recently that many people think of contemplation in much the same way that they think of flyover country, and for many of the same reasons. Contemplation is boring, austere, isolating and confining, to the point of being claustrophobic. Ask someone to be still for a time, without the benefit of their smart phone or something else to distract them, and you just might get the same response as David Byrne’s character singing in Big Country:
I couldn’t meditate if you paid me.
I can’t be still like that, no siree!
I’ve got no time for things that the sages used to do.
I couldn’t meditate if you paid me to.
And so I’d like to introduce you to Heartland Contemplative – a means by which I hope to bring a little of the beauty of flyover country to a broader audience than might otherwise be the case. Perhaps I can encourage you to visit from time to time! Look for Heartland Contemplative on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well. Thank you!
Copyright 2018 by Mark Robert Frank
All images are the property of the author unless otherwise noted.