I live in a town where almost everyone is employed by one of two companies.
And actually, now that I think about it, we also have other large employers, but still, when I meet someone new and ask where they work, they work at one of two places most often.
One of those two places is shipping a lot of employees to other states. And no, this blog post is not about the state of affair in Illinois or our lack of budget or our plethora of debt.
When one of my friends returned to my town from her new state, new house, and new job, she was telling us how much fun it has been to be out of Illinois. How the taxes are lower. How the schools are better. How the political commercials hit you a little less square in the gut. And she wondered, why would I want to stay in Illinois?
So, I thought about it. And even after I gave her my answer, I thought about it some more. What’s holding me here? Why is Illinois important? Why have I lived within a very small triangle of space my entire 38 years on this earth?!
The answer, after much debate and internal soul-searching, is exactly the same answer that came to my gut when she posed the question.
Because I’m a farm girl.
Because that dirt gets under your skin.
Because the rest of your family – even your extended family – lives near.
Because the culture, the mindset, the psyche of a farmer is to stay in one place. To be rooted to the earth. To know – like a deep in your being sort of knowing – the land that you’re a steward of.
Farmers can’t pick up and move the earth that provides their living. Even the skill set that they’ve developed, this internal intuition about how to handle every single set back that mother nature dishes out, doesn’t necessarily apply to other regions of the country. Every bit of dirt is different, unique, and a farmer is a bit attached to his or her specific piece.
So no, I can’t imagine leaving here. I will be a citizen of Illinois – and all the “stuff” that entails – for the rest of my life.
I think Paul Taylor, one of the many farmers I’ve been privileged to know over my years in our industry, says it best so I’ll let you hear it from him. (Start at about 2:45 if you don’t want to watch the entire video.)