An Instrument for Transforming

Journeys for the Well-Intentioned: Interlude

In the Heartland. Sangamon County, IL. © 2021 Ash Morgan

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Joy can be found in the Heartland. It shines from the eyes of your not two nephew as he smiles at his mom from the arms of his mama. It drips from the red dressing dotting the best thin crust pizza from your childhood — unbeaten to this day.

So too.

Hospitality can be found in the Heartland. It weaves through the WELCOME signs standing tall on front porches, white letters set against dark wood. It bubbles from the family diner, serving catfish on a Friday night.

So too.

Pride can be found in the Heartland. It rises from the meticulously manicured lawns and the always clean cars basking in driveways. It soaks into the butterfly porkchops grilled on the back patio and pools under the deviled eggs.

So too.

Serenity can be found in the Heartland. It settles next to you on the front porch swing, carried by a light breeze with the smell of your freshly cut grass. It rides that breeze to wander through the maple that towers over your three-story house, interrupting the squirrel snacking on the head of a sunflower, baking in the midday heat.

And yet.

Impatience, too, can be found in the Heartland. It arrives on the back of a John Deere hauling a sixteen-row planter, kicking up dust for half a mile. It plays peekaboo as you enter and exit the evaporating towns that still manage to have a sheriff parked a hundred yards past the SPEED LIMIT 35 MPH sign.

So too.

Sadness can be found in the Heartland. It sleeps in the fading photographs sitting atop the walnut dresser, filled with clothes their owner no longer requires. It stirs briefly only to nap in the rocking chairs starved for motion.

So too.

Emptiness can be found in the Heartland. It drifts over those wide-open fields, stretching to the horizon. It follows you to the small-town bar on a Tuesday night, sampling the stools, your glass, your life. A local girl tries to bum a smoke; cigarette not required.

So too.

Loneliness can be found in the Heartland. It tags along for the long drives down old country roads, corn fields extending to the right, soybeans out to the left. You can catch a shimmer of it as the sun sets behind the grain elevator, bathing the clouds in a ruddy light.

And yet.

Loneliness can be found in the Urbanland, too. It shuffles among the crowded sidewalks and slips into the evening train packed shoulder to shoulder. It settles over a man curled in a doorway, smelled before seen.

So too.

Impatience can be found in the Urbanland. It joins you for the sudden stops and sluggish starts at 4 o’clock on a Friday afternoon. It spins around as your Internet drops. It perches atop your chat as you wait for those three pulsing dots to transform into…

So too.

Sadness can be found in the Urbanland. It partners with Regret, replaying all the what-might-have-beens to the exclusion of the what-is-here-nows. It seeps into the unwrinkled duvet and undented pillow covering a now-too-large bed.

So too.

Emptiness can be found in the Urbanland. It fills long days staring at glowing screens, seeking praise from those with power. It hides between the cat memes and the fancy food from your friends, betwixt the celebrity endorsements and the influencer porn. It asks, “Are you still watching?” four or five or six times a day. It lives in the Likes given and the Likes received; ego nourished if not the soul.

And yet.

Pride, too, can be found in the Urbanland. It flies from poles and hangs in windows. It transforms corporate logos. (At least in June.) It drips from a perfectly apportioned shot, gently layered with a micro-foam Rosetta. A contrast of light and dark.

So too.

Serenity can be found in the Urbanland. It settles into your thinking chair, the attenuated sounds of the freeway simulating a sandy shore. It wafts from that carefully crafted cappuccino to fill your nostrils, a slow sip channeling Dali to your cup as espresso slides over your tongue.

So too.

Hospitality can be found in the Urbanland. It greets you with wet nose and tongue askew, favorite ball dropping at your feet. You can savor it in a ham and cheese croissant, made fresh an hour after the kitchen closed.

So too.

Joy can be found in the Urbanland. It sits in the front basket of your electric-assist bike as you pedal towards the Bay. It swings from clasped hands as you stroll from pier to pier. It rests its head on your chest, snuggling close, at the close of another day.

And yet.

Loneliness and Emptiness and Impatience and Sadness can be found in any land, because they all reside in me. And in you. In each of us.

So too.

Pride and Hospitality and Serenity and Joy can be found in any land, because they all reside in me. And in you. In each of us.

And so.

They become fuel for our becoming. By enfolding them, we are transformed. By unfolding them, the world is transformed.

In the end.

Three questions emerge —

What fuel is life bringing to you?
What will it require of you to transform it?
What greater whole is calling for you to do it?

Leave a comment and let me know what this was like for you. Or, if you’d prefer, send me a message on LinkedIn.

If you’re curious about where this journey started, check out Part 1. Or, if you’ve been following all along, continue with Part 4 in our journeys for the well-intentioned.

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