Login | May 30, 2020

Boring you say?

Pete’s World

Published: April 29, 2019

I’ve got a friend who moved from Ohio to Boulder, Colorado a few decades ago. And he raves about Colorado a lot - a little too much actually. Well, he took it to a new level of abrasiveness not long ago when he texted me that he’d changed his mind about coming back to visit O-hi for a couple of weeks…because…”it’s too boring.” And he was dead serious.

Without a second of deliberation I immediately fired back a text. Said I totally understood…because…”that’s how I find Colorado.” Hit send. Text delivered.

Okay, I know exactly what you’re thinking - my text was embarrassingly juvenile, not to mention childishly vindictive. You’re right of course, but his “too boring” comment was akin to poking the bear. You see, when I lived in Colorado back in the ‘80s, that was an elitist comment I heard far too often regarding my place of birth.

And honestly, I think more than the irritation of having my home turf denigrated, I was annoyed at having to incessantly confront such short-sighted and ignorant comments, comments that bespeak of one’s complete lack of a worldly perspective.

What’s more, labeling a place - any place - as too boring, well, that’s just not cool.

Now for the record, I really like Colorado. And more to the point, I really don’t know of any place on this wonderful planet that I’ve visited or not visited where there isn’t some kind of thought-provoking, beautiful, likable quality.

Fact is all those attributes can apply to anywhere. It’s up to you to take the time to let them percolate in your psyche.

This simple philosophy was bestowed upon me 30-some years ago by a retired gentleman I met as he was touring the USA in his RV and I was cycling around the Great Lakes. It’s a philosophy which likely arose by virtue of a couple of cold beers, a primitive, back country campground, and a glowing campfire under a starry northern Michigan sky.

And this “enjoy the space you’re in” philosophy was one of those rare, concise little nuggets of wisdom that’s stuck with me a good part of my adult life.

Now I have to fess up and admit that his philosophy helped to shake loose in me that same insular mindset I’m currently bemoaning. Yup, before I got out and surveyed other states, other nations, and other continents, I was clueless - a clear case of I-didn’t-know-I-didn’t-know.

It’s funny, because today, when I expound on this philosophy I inevitably blow a mind or two. For instance, when I tell folks I’m mesmerized by the Great Plains - Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, etc., many of my fellow Ohioans tend to do the eye-roll thing just like those pesky Coloradans did when I told them I hailed from Ohio.

And yes, there was a time when I too viewed the Great Plains with the same kind of ignorant disdain that some people might view Ohio. My initial experience with the region was a monotonously long drive on I-70 through Kansas/I-80 through Nebraska. I was always in too much of a hurry to get to the West Coast to ever want to take a minute to visit. Sound familiar?

Wasn’t until I rode a mountain bike across the back roads of these states that I just fell in love with them. Their vastness, their all-enveloping, all-consuming landscapes just seemed to swallow me up. It was a sensation I’d never experienced before on a bike. And if it weren’t for a simple philosophy I’d embraced years ago in upstate Michigan, I’d likely have avoided these wonderful gems to this day.

I feel that same kind of reverence when I speak about the bleakness of the Canadian Arctic, the boundlessness of the Russian Taiga, and the starkness of Western Greenland. They all embody beautiful, unique attributes that set them apart from any other place on the planet. They’re anything but boring.

Which brings me back to good old Ohio and my Coloradan buddy’s disparaging remark. Guess I could have taken a different tact, and rather than trading insult for insult I could have pointed out my enjoy-the-space-you’re-in philosophy…um…which would have far exceeded the character limit of a text box.

On second thought, now that I’ve gotten this off my chest I think I’ll just move on.