There was one conversation I had this year that I’ve come back to several times, and it all had to do with priorities and place. The theory was this: People in different geographic locations judge quality of life by very different factors. For example, in Washington D.C. it might be common to judge one another (and therefore your own success) on the connections one holds. How connected are you to those in power? What are your 6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon (or John Boehner), etc. Likewise, if everything really is bigger in Texas, perhaps that state puts great importance on possessions–their money, their house, their land.
So this made me think, what do we prioritize in East Tennessee? We are in the Bible Belt so many people prioritize the state of their soul (and, of course, everyone else’s). East Tennessee is made up of lots of small towns so you can definitely see the “who do you know” factor at work. But mostly, since I started really paying attention to this (in May), I’ve found that I am most interested in what people do with their free time–and so are most of the people I know.
I am a homebody. I like to spend time with my family, I like to cook for all of our friends, and when we get out, I’d much rather jump in a river than go to a club. So when I meet someone at a party I often ask about how they spend their Saturdays… Do they spend time with their family? Do they read books? Do they hike? Do they eat good food? (In which case, we can definitely be friends!)
It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants.
The question is: What are we busy about?
-Henry David Thoreau
Which brings me to Thoreau. As we set goals for the new year, what are we going to be busy about? What takes priority in your life? How do you judge yourself–and therefore how will you judge others? While I do think there is something to that regional value idea, I just want to be sure that, regardless of place, I am setting my own priorities and living my life accordingly. And yes, as previously stated, one of those priorities is eating and sharing good food–expect more of that in the new year–which I’m not entirely sure isn’t a Southern belle/regional sort of thing in itself.