While driving to Tulsa a couple of weekends ago I got a little depressed as we passed through some small towns. The towns were so small that if you blinked you might not notice them and if you did notice them you’d remember nothing about them. It would be like someone asking you to stare at a beige wall and then later describe it in detail. I imagine that the people that live here probably don’t have cable tv or high speed internet. Their only luxuries consist of hot and cold running water and air-conditioning.
I wonder about the kids in these small towns. What do they do when football and basketball season is over? I imagine them driving out into the country and looking for the goat man. Searching for his beady red eyes in fields filled with dried out johnson grass and rusty barb wire. The roads are gravel and when they get scared they try to peel out but their tires don’t have any traction. Gravel sprays everywhere and the residual dust is caked on the cars until the next rain. Instead of going to Mavericks games or to Putt-Putt golf they go to Dairy Queen and get a Hunger Buster with cheese. If they can afford it they splurge and share a Butterfinger Blizzard. Johnny, the manager from the local Piggly Wiggly not only sells the underage liquor but he buys it for them. He’s a “cool” adult and he doesn’t see the harm in buying a few post-pubescent teens a little social lubrication. When the alcohol is gone what else is there to do besides have sex?
Most of the homes in this small town are mobile. If you have a foundation under your house then you are considered “well off” and you’re rich if your house is brick. If you are lucky enough to live in a two-story house then you might as well be Bill Gates.
Few kids get to go to college in this town and for some, the thought has never even crossed their minds. They only aspire to get out of their parent’s house. They sack groceries and mow lawns and eventually they get married and raise each other’s kids. By the time they are twenty they have worked up to a 3 pack a day cigarette habit. The front lawn is never mowed and even though they don’t have much, they at least have each other and their kids and that is enough.
As I drive I wonder why anyone would want to stay in a town like that. To live a life that is not much different than the car in their front yard on cinder blocks. Their life sits their and rusts away when all it needed was a new set of wheels and some gasoline.
I believe that people live this way not because they want to, but because they don’t know that there are other options. It’s like the first time that you have ice cream, or your first kiss, or owning a cell phone, you don’t know what you are missing, you don’t know what life is like without it and so you don’t miss it, but if you ever had it, then you would never want to live without it.
As I think these things, I think about people who don’t believe in God. People who don’t believe in God remind me of small town people. People that live their entire lives without fully experiencing the richness of the world and all it has to offer. The thing is, if you tried to explain to these people that they are missing out on so much, they would probably tell you that they are happy just the way they are. To them, God is like a cell phone and since they’ve had neither, they can’t imagine why it would be useful to them. They’d rather keep on living without it not realizing that they’re really not living at all.