You Have to Live in the City for Years to Really Appreciate the Country

You have to live in the city for years to really appreciate what the country has to offer. If all you’ve known is the enormity of a country day, have never known the tightness of constricted, scarce space, have never spent years without walking a dirt road or seeing a naked hillside at dawn, you can’t appreciate what you have.

It takes living in a city, getting the breath punched out of you by noise and traffic, witnessing the sight of human suffering sprawled alongside great prosperity. It takes years of feeling the scuffle of competition and the urgency it puts in your step and the wakefulness it puts in your sleep. Dreams of work, punctured by sirens and the howls of the drunken and homeless.

Life rolls on and you become successful—or don’t—and the pressure just keeps rising either way. Every new tier you get to, you can’t relax because there’s the crush of shoulders on either side ready to take your place and some new chasm of debt about to swallow you up.

After this, you grow to crave, to hunger, to idealize the country. The stillness, the space, the openness. You know that your years of city life have pushed you into a hard shape and you feel that in a slower place you wouldn’t find anything difficult.

And yet, there’s the stillness. Would it quickly cease to soothe you and become agitating? Would you chew yourself up out of restlessness? If you leave the city will you be able to return, or find yourself condemned to the back of the line, starting over, damned to wait and hope for entry at the gates?

One Response

  1. Judy S says:

    Ah, but we must wait for the answer to those questions, right?

    I did this journey in reverse, leaving the so-still place for a bit more hustle, bustle and aliveness. I still, after 17 years of city, find joy in the fact that I am surrounded by people and by activity, even when I retreat to my quiet home. But as the years go on, I do find myself longing for greater episodes of nature and the particular stillness it brings.

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