““A thing of beauty is a joy forever; its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness” ~ John Keats.
Some days are diamonds, some days are stone. Today definitely qualified as the latter. Driving blizzards across central Illinois all day have done nothing to transform the constantly bleak landscape into anything resembling “scenery”.
Four years of life in this barren place have caused me to ponder frequently on what produces the plethora of obesity, obsession with “shopping”, and a mindset that regards “cook-outs”, “cook-ins” or “cook-anything” as the be-all and end-all of social entertainment.
The answer is, of course, obvious. There’s bugger-all else to do in this place.
Boredom is what drives the mindset of the “Heartlands”. Boredom leads to over-eating and over-spending, which in turn manufactures obesity and credit card debt.
There is one outlet. The local churches in the “Heartlands” have no trouble filling their pews. It’s another form of entertainment; a way to placate the boredom for a few hours and give the mouth a rest between Big Macs. Although, passing my local Methodist the other day, I noted a sign outside advertising: “Cook-In Chili Supper 7.30 Wednesday”.
Perhaps the churches need a little help after all.
I have yet to determine whether it’s a nationwide problem, or peculiar to the “Heartlands”, but replacing boredom with overeating, over-spending – and undoubtedly, over-worshipping – cannot be a healthy answer for Americans, whether in Illinois or elsewhere.
Life in the “Heartlands” is possibly the most boring in the civilized world. Anything remotely interesting has to be manufactured. The place itself lacks any form of natural beauty. Quite possibly, at one time, nature’s loveliness may have lifted the soul and warmed the heart, but if so the Archer Daniel Midland corporation and its multi-thousand acres of corn long ago obliterated anything resembling what in Europe is colloquially known as a “beauty spot”.
It would be ludicrous to suggest that the North American continent is devoid of natural beauty. The problem, for most Americans, is that anywhere worthy of a visit requires an expensive airplane flight, or a week of slogging behind the wheel. Unless, of course, you’re one of the stinking rich who have bought up all the real estate within two hundred miles of such places, in which case you have the right to enjoy them at your leisure.
For the people of the “Heartlands”, a picnic at a natural beauty spot means barbecuing a slab of beef from Wal-Mart on their back porch, enjoying the purulent scent of ADM’s local ethanol plant, and with a view – if they’re lucky – of five-foot high, genetically-modified corn stalks stretching to the far horizon.
Now, it’s remotely possible that the reader may begin to form an opinion suggestive of the writer being somewhat dissatisfied with the virtues of life in the American “Heartlands”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The writer is ready to partake and enjoy to the full all the virtues life in the “Heartlands” has to offer.
It’s just that, after nearly five years in this flat, boring, God-forsaken place, he has yet to find any.
Filed under: Disgruntled thoughts