Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music ...
Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music Education from Truman State. Now retired, Rich enjoyed reading, writing music and short essays. He is the director of Kirksville Community Chorus.
MCKNOTES ON BIG CITY OR SMALL TOWN
I just spent six days in New York City, and I loved every minute of it. I think I could live there. There’s so much going on, and it’s a city that’s made for convenience in many ways. I’m sure I would quickly go broke. Cities are expensive, and I don’t fool myself into thinking it would be a carefree life, but I think I could be happy there.
The truth is that I think I could be happy anywhere. I believe happiness is a choice. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s important to remember. I’ve lived in large cities and small rural towns and been happy in both.
Many people in large cities are afraid. Before I went to New York I got unsolicited advice from various people who warned me not to look anyone in the eye, never to carry my wallet in my back pocket and so on. These are common sense guidelines for the most part. I don’t buy the bit about never looking people in the eye. There are certain times that it’s probably best not to be out and about, and there are places that are less inviting and probably best avoided. As long as one goes about one’s business and is sensible, for the most part, I think they will stay out of harm’s way.
I live in Kirksville, and I’m happy here. I have lived in Honolulu and Kansas City. Both of those places are quite dissimilar from Kirksville, but all three are good places to live. I think the comfort ability of small towns has some real values. It takes very little time to get from one place to the other. I remember going to a movie in the Denver megalopolis; it took me almost as long to find the theatre as it did to watch the movie. That robbed from the enjoyment of the experience when I finally arrived. In Kirksville, one need allow only a few minutes to get from one end of town to the other. That’s a convenience I relish.
Another feature of small towns is that one gets to know people and cross paths in more than one setting. For example, I might see a friend at church and also at the grocery store. The pace of living in a small rural town is much less frenetic than in a large city. Fewer sirens to announce one or another tragedy interrupt the rhythm of sounds that occur in any place where people have settled. There’s a quiet in country settings that is lovely and restive, but it requires being away from any population center, even a small population. There’s nothing quite like being in the countryside at night, where the stars are bright and not faded by the ambient light of city streets or advertise various options for better living but fade the brilliance of the heavens.
There is also a rhythm to any city. Engines roar, autos trumpet impatience, various signal announce that attention be directed to instances that might otherwise cause an individual misfortune. I’m not a fan of car alarms that seem to blast away unattended even when there’s no one around them. It makes me wonder how many thefts or acts of vandalism have been thwarted by these cacophonous intrusions. Sirens warn us that we must be careful and that no matter what we see as difficulty along our way, someone is facing a more stressful and debilitating situation. These alarms are necessary and even helpful.
The colors of a city are also fascinating. Fifty different people can choose fifty different fashion statements, some more pleasing than others, but all lending to the tapestry of a city. I think it’s important to look at any place we find ourselves as if it’s the first time we’ve ever seen that place. One can only learn to appreciate the silence of the country to its fullest by remembering the noise of a city. Rural settings offer color as well that most often come from nature. I guess it’s our job to appreciate all that we are given and see the good in whatever circumstance we find ourselves.