Leaving Nazareth: Small town musings

Jesus of Nazareth, if you believe the stories, was a prophet and teacher. His home town was Nazareth. When he began to share his message in his hometown he was rejected. He found people outside his hometown that did accept it, but he did not find support at home. Perhaps he didn’t find support because his message was off the wall, or perhaps because Nazareth had a mindset that couldn’t be swayed.

Small towns have a similar mindset. There is a status quo that is accepted, and appreciated. Families have been there for generations, every once in a while a stray will move away, but most stay close to home. Sometimes new families from bigger cities move in and breath new life into the town, and give others hope, that creativity, ideas, and change are alive and possible.

You always have to pull yourself up

I could never figure out why I woke up every day feeling restless, rebellious, and like I needed to get in any car with a hemi engine, and drive as fast and far as I could go. Why? Why do I want to scream, and play music so loud? Why do I feel so rebellious and angry all the time?

A friend of mine, and career coach, someone from the outside, asked me how I dealt with having to pull myself up all the time. It was at this moment that everything became clear. I wasn’t a rebel I was frustrated. I had ideas, dreams, and goals, and no support for them, no place to share them, and no one who shared my passion for change. I was alone and had no one to encourage me, challenge me, and partner with me to make lasting change that would help our community.

Then Came Cupertino

Right before complete burnout set in I went and visited my brother. He had moved away. I guess he emerged from the cocoon many years before I did. He is amazing. He is a born leader, full of energy, life, and drive, and he left before any of that could be extinguished by a lack of vision that you find in small towns. He got out, and was to able thrive. How proud I am of my brother, and envious of him and the amazing support network that surrounded him when he worked at Cupertino, CA for one of the big tech companies.

The career coach explained it to me. Marcy, can you imagine what it was like. No. Can you imagine what it would be like to go to work every day and have people encourage you to do the impossible? It hit me. Yes, yes I can imagine that, and then I cried. He doesn’t come back to visit often, and I know why. It would be like volunteering to go without oxygen for a while. Especially after breathing the air in Silicon Valley.

So my brother talks to me, and sees how exhausted I am. I tell him that I know if I get the right group of people together we can change things. I can see it. It could work. All the players are there at the table, so if we can just get them to team up we can make the change our community needs. Cupertino says, Marcy, you won’t get them to come together. It’s the same town it always has been, and always will be. That’s why I left, and that’s why you need to leave.

Leaving Nazareth

I haven’t lived in many small towns, and I am sure there are great ones. Mine is just not for me. At one time our small town was a great place to raise kids. A low cost of living, more churches than liquor stores, good ole community, with good ole small town values. Folks used to be able to graduate high school and work at the local factory most of their lives making a good wage, but those factories are gone.

Most professionals have left or commute to work, and a few dedicated people try to keep a few good things going. Social service groups outnumber businesses, and attract people in need of services. Crime and drug addiction are on the rise, and the old time people left don’t see the signs that the community is dying.

It’s time to leave Nazareth. It’s time to find a place where I can thrive, where I don’t have to pull myself up off the ground each day, searching for others who want to create, who have ideas, and want to take risks. Until I leave, and until you do, here is what we can do:

  • We can work to create unity with like-minded people. I do have four people that share my love for creativity, ideas, and change. That is the beginning of a community.
  • Thanks to the Internet we can find a support community online through blogs, books, and social media. As we develop relationships we can connect via email, Skype or face time.
  • We can visit nearby cities, or other creative communities. A visit can provide encouragement and hope.
  • Sometimes we need to move. Some communities just aren’t a good fit for us.
  • Don’t give up. Whatever it is that you do in life, and wherever you do it, don’t give up. What you do is important, and the world needs it.

I truly wish that I could enjoy small towns, the comfort of status quo, and wear the blinders that others do that says all is well. I feel oppressed, lost and restless, and await the day when I can leave Nazareth, and find my own set of people who support my message and teaching.

Marcy Pedersen