Smoke and Mirrors

December 13th, 2012

The worst part of living in the Bakken… are the complaints about it.

I get rubbed the wrong way when I hear people say things like, “I cried all day the very first day I came!” or “I cry almost EVERY day!” (Yes, I hear this FAR too often). Just the other day, I was complimenting a mother and daughter on their commitment to keep their families together by coming out here even if it meant they had to live in a fifth-wheel or a single-wide trailer.

The reply? It was, “Yeah, I used to never get why people I talked to thought it was so awful to move here, UNTIL I MOVED HERE! Now I get it!”

I bit my tongue, people. Hard.

Far too many people (*Women, cough, cough*) refuse to leave the familiarity of their surroundings, sending their husbands off to live a solitary life for weeks at a time. I don’t know about you, but I’d get pretty lonely if it was JUST me. At least the women (usually) have their kids with them, not to mention familiar faces and friends.

Then there are many who move here, and I think they have blinders on. Because all they see are dirty roads, amusingly outdated shopping, funny-looking movie theatres, and men in rig-hand jumpsuits which they perceive are just itching to molest them on their way to their car at Walmart.

I always think the landscape looks like someone sprinkled a giant bag of powdered sugar everywhere. See that glow on the horizon? It reminded me of that scene of looking toward Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings. So neat!

Women are certainly not the only culprits. I heard a man once say that he’d flat-out never allow his kids and family to go to Walmart in Williston. He just wouldn’t. I couldn’t understand that, not even a little. I mean, I’ve seen far more sinister characters at Walmart in southern California than I have ever seen in Williston.

Probably the most annoying complaint is that “there’s no shopping,” as if shopping should constitute a large enough part of our lives to have ANY effect on our decision to move somewhere, ESPECIALLY when things are so readily available online. For many who move here, shopping now plays a large role in how they translate their own happiness.

People also don’t want to be seen as “complaining” so they deliver their angst through clever quips and humorous jibes , their tone saying their words shouldn’t be taken seriously, but the frequency of delivery indicates they very much SHOULD be regarded.  The effect is far-reaching. And it results in situations like the mother and daughter who must have heard any number of these statements, and it affected their expectations, and thus, their perception.

Because that’s really what this is about. Perception.

I recently moved from a single-wide trailer into a duplex (a house for all intents and purposes). I’m not going to lie that in a past life I looked upon trailer living as not just lacking in luster, but downright trashy. So when, last September, I learned I’d soon be living in one, I laughed a bit at God’s humor (not only was I moving to a state I never wanted to live in, but I’d be in a TRAILER while there).

Single-wide suburbia, where I lived for a year after moving to Williston.

But in the end I didn’t much care that it was a trailer (the lack of space, however, was tedious at times with my 4 kids). And in fact, I considered myself fortunate that I wasn’t living in a 15-foot camper (that ALMOST happened). And it was kind of fun when I was packing to ask myself, “Now, do I REALLY need to bring my family photos?”, “Will it be worth bringing baby clothes for the possible next child or just buy new ones when and if it happens?”, or “Do I HAVE to have my entire book collection with me?” Furthermore, I can say that I looked forward to moving here. It was an adventure. It was a challenge. I was dreaming of the moments which would inevitably change my perception of North Dakota (that state in the union with too much wide open space that you NEVER hear anything about on the news–until now of course). I was excited to figure out what it was exactly that drew people to live here oh so long ago. There must be SOMEthing. It couldn’t just be the dustbowl I imagined.

Scene from the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the best kept secret of natural wonder in North Dakota. (Oh my word that sky is so lovely in this picture it hurts!)

I enjoy being surprised. I enjoy having PEOPLE surprise me. I want to know what makes them tick. Everyone is different, and every place draws a different type of person. But that’s not to say that we can’t appreciate each space for what it is even if it isn’t our particular cup of tea. Enjoy marveling at the diversity of human preference. SEE what they see. WALK where they’ve walked. Open your eyes. Each small corner of the globe, from the vastest dessert, to the smallest park, has something unique to offer our experience. There is something to love about everyone. And something to love about every PLACE. Happiness can be found anywhere and is nothing more than optimal perception. The rest is just smoke and mirrors.

Bobbing well-heads always seem so peaceful to me. They don’t really interrupt the landscape so much as look like they belong there and have been there forever, quietly and unobtrusively.

2 Responses to “Smoke and Mirrors”

  1. Andi says:

    Wow!! You have a beautiful outlook on life!! Bless you!

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