Never before did I realize how life changing it could be? Why didn’t someone tell me this when I graduated from school, got married and made all those important life decisions that set my course? It is like the best and most valuable secret ever. I am shocked that books aren’t out there touting this little secret and how it can change your perspective on everyday and everything.
What? What is the secret? Well, here you go. Live within 5 miles of your work place. Commit to never travelling more than 10 or 15 minutes to be at work any given day.
Since I possess the ability to eat breakfast, shower/dress and be ready in 20 minutes, that means I am never more than 30 minutes away from being in the office. Why is that important? Well, I spent 26 years needing a 2-hour lead-time for any meeting. And then a 2-hour lag-time to get home. So I lived within the framework of 20-hour days while everyone else in my home community seemed to live within the framework of 24-hour days. And all the important life events especially those related to my children were at hours that I never understood. How can they make those times, I would ask myself?
Consider this. Now, I enjoy breakfast with Luke before he heads off to school. And then I have time to read the newspapers (plural intended and emphasized), drink several cups of coffee, read some devotionals, pray some, workout some and still be at the office by 9 or 9:30 a.m. By the time I sit at my desk, I am happy. I feel relaxed and very stress-free. So even if the first call or the first meeting isn’t perfect, I have built up a base of comfort that allows me to ignore it as an anomaly.
So I wonder if “company towns” really were an evil design. Sure there are books and studies showing they overcharged you on groceries and attempted to enslave you to their economic system. But what may I ask is different about driving 4 hours everyday to a job because you really can’t afford to take a job closer to home . . . a job in the community you know and love? At least the “company towns” built within a mile or two of the plant allowed our ancestors more family time . . . more time where it really mattered . . . right there in the midst of their community of family and friends.
Naïve? Okay, the big man owning the plant reaped all the money. But he drove back and forth to that plant . . . a couple hours lost each day. He flew all over the world worrying about the return on his money and those who would conspire to take his money. He spent evenings at dinners with politicians worrying about regulations to protect his kingdom. And our ancestors . . . well, they were home with the kids talking about the football game coming up against the cross-county rival. They were at home eating some vegetables that were homegrown by their neighbor. They were taking a walk and stopping to check in on a neighbor who had been sick.
Communities were built for us. Sometimes we act as if they were built for or belong to someone else. No one owns a community. They may build it. They may claim it. But no one owns it. The minute someone really owns it, it is no longer a community.
Now, when I take that 10-minute drive each morning, I really pay attention to our community. I notice the schools. I notice the stores. I notice the green spaces. But most importantly, I notice the people. Yes, this is corny but it does seem like a place where everyone knows your name but more than that, where I know everyone’s name. And that feels good.