It was misting and grey when I looked out the window last Saturday morning, and the forecast was rain, ice and snow. Better still, my wife and I had no plans but to make no plans and relax. We had a breakfast of eggs, venison sausage, fried potatoes, milk and coffee. As we ate, the mist turned to rain which turned to snow and some of the snow began to stick on the grass, tree branches and the windshields of our cars parked on the street. A walk was clearly out of the question, so we decided I would read to her while she put together some crafts for an upcoming family wedding.
For months now, off and on, we have been reading The Hobbit aloud, usually in the evenings when my wife has a project to do that requires little brainpower. So, as the snow picked up and early morning turned to late morning, I read to her about Bilbo and Gandalf and giant spiders, elves and scary dark forests. At times I would wonder whether she was listening as she worked, but I was reassured when I read a particularly grisly description of a giant spider’s eight hairy legs and she said, “Ew, Nasty!” Every once in a while I would look up from the book out our large picture window and exclaim, “Look at it come down now!” or “Heather! Look how big those flakes are!”
It was one of those days that make me think to myself, “You know, living in Newton is about as good as living anywhere else I can imagine.” A morning in Trafalgar Square, London or a night walking along the Seine in Paris could not have been any more satisfying than sitting in front of that picture window, watching the snow, sipping coffee, reading to my wife and digesting that hearty breakfast. Oh I’ve heard the exclamations, and at times they’ve come out of my mouth: “I have to get out of Newton!” “This place is holding me down.” “Nothing happens here.” “If only I lived in_________.” There is nothing wrong with wanting to expand your horizons by seeing and experiencing new places. I’ve done that; it was life altering and perspective enlarging, but it’s no good thinking those other places will make you satisfied or happy; they won’t. Move for practical reasons; move for career reasons; move for study reasons; move for family reasons, but don’t move for reasons of happiness or satisfaction. Newton has about as much to do with your happiness or unhappiness as a plastic flower has to do with photosynthesis.
At the end of the broadcast of the 1998 Kansas State, Nebraska football game in which K-State had defeated the boys in red 40-30 for the first time in twenty-nine years, the TV announcer, Keith Jackson, declared, as he watched students swarming the field and goalposts, “So It’s a goodnight from the happiest place on Earth—Manhattan, Kansas.” Last Saturday evening, as I lay in bed thinking about the day, I think I could have said the same about Newton.
R. Eric Tippin
In The Study on 8th Street