Sep 25, 2008

A Day Begins - A Day Ends

At 6:45pm the Sun hangs low in the western sky of Tolono.
I wear a layer of dirt and appear to have been powdered white from head to foot.
I smell of daylong sweat and thick dust has accumulated on my arm hairs, it looks like a thousand mini dreadlocks.
I stand outside of the North pit alongside, "Junk" as the last semi pulls up with the day’s final load of beans.

Harvest has officially begun - day 1 is in the books and I now know the definition of "a long days work."
There is something that resonates in the air during harvest, you can literally feel it. I've always been able to feel it. There is a sense of seasonal change and a sense of consummation and fruition. It's emotionally charging.
It feels like the saying, "one closed door opens another." That's the best I can explain it.

Junk and I sit together on a concrete stoop for the last ten minutes of our shift and enjoy a cigarette. Neither of us say a word to each other, we just sit facing the polychromatic horizon and experience a mutual respect of silence and reflection.
I think about my level of exhaustion and how it will only become more and more so.
I think about how life has brought me to this point.
I think about absolutely everything.

A revelation of sorts came over at that moment as the surreality of moving back home completely vanished. Memories and familiarities of my town became less distant and less foreign and once again I cherished them.
I could see myself again as a boy, racing my BMX bike through the crossing guards across the railroad tracks to beat an oncoming train.
I remember the path I used to walk home from grade school, today it's the same path I walk home from work.
As a child, the grain elevator served as the colossal structure of my observation, imagination and wonderment, and now I am employed there.
I feel as though a piece of my life has come full circle, as though I've reached some "right of passage".
I can now begin greater things.

While in college, I would make occasional visits home and leave shortly thereafter due to overwhelming depression and feelings of alienation. For a long time I believed those feelings occurred because of returning to such a small and lonely town,
because of people who had moved on or passed away,
because I wanted to be nothing like the people who had stayed.
I now realize those feelings stemmed from my abrupt desertion - the fact that I coldly abandoned the place that made me James Wilcox, all in pursuit of something better. For a long time I thought I was better than Tolono, thus, I set out to find that "something" better. But it's not about that at all. It's only about knowing yourself better, It doesn't matter where you go, you won't find it until you've found yourself. That is the way to empowerment, and that's one thing I sorely lacked for a long time.

I have no shame for where I grew up, in fact now I respect it. Tolono made me great (no arrogance intended)
Tolono gave me life, personality, heart, and most the things I am today.
To completely disregard it would be to disregard a large piece of myself.

One thing remains true at all times - The sun will come up and the sun will go down no matter how you live your life and no matter how long you live.
At the end of the day the next closest thing to "truth" is one's self.
It's very important for us all to understand our individual uniqueness - the idea that there will never be another person quite like ourselves. I believe everyday can be a remarkable one as long as you genuinely welcome it as that person; everything else is just filler, some good and some bad.

This is my home now and for as long or as short as I want it to be and I choose to embrace it whole-heartedly. It is who I am,
The Midwest Kid.

3 comments:

fannie said...

happiest fella on the planet.

Misc said...

I too grew up in Tolono, left for college and returned to teach at the high school I once could not wait to escape.

Loved the truth in this post.

Matt said...

"I have no shame for where I grew up, in fact now I respect it. Tolono made me great (no arrogance intended). Tolono gave me life, personality, heart, and most the things I am today. To completely disregard it would be to disregard a large piece of myself." This gave me a much brighter outlook on how the people of Tolono can look at their lives. I have started to lose my pride of coming from a small town. But I realize that even though it is very small on a map, it continually affects my perception of life. On an unrelated topic, the world needs to hear more about "Junk" (since you mentioned him). Keep up the good work!