I like those workdays when I can get out of the office and take the back roads to a meeting.
While the fastest route to my destination is usually the interstate, I’m discovering the rewards of leaving the interstates behind and getting onto secondary roads, county roads and farm-to-market roads often far outweigh the extra time spent behind the wheel.
If I were back on the interstate, I’d likely be gripping the wheel at “ten and two,” while tailing a car in the passing lane going 60 miles per hour that’s passing another car going 59 miles per hour. When I got to my destination, my hands would be sweaty, my neck tense and my mind drained.
On that back road, I get to be thankful for Hereford calves in their pastures, new stands of corn in creek bottoms and the smell of green onions clipped by a bush hog.
As I ride, I encounter other lives being lived in real time. I see folks in ways that enrich my own experience. I pass through places like Bowman, Hickory Grove or Trio. I get glimpses of local folks addressing challenges through local effort—a car wash for a marching band’s new uniforms, a church circle’s fall bazaar to benefit the community cooperative ministry’s health clinic, or a collaborative garden supplying a neighborhood food cooperative. For the time and effort expended, output exceeds dollars or vegetables: friendships are formed, a sense of connection develops and empathy grows. If I were to stop and ask who was responsible for all the good works, I’d surely hear a lot more “we’s” than “me’s.”
Once upon a time, neighbors knocked, casserole in hand, to say, “We haven’t seen you lately.” These days, we tend to talk, post and tweet at each other all day long. But, by slowing down and actually engaging again, we can cultivate meaningful relationships that add color and flavor to our lives. While I embrace modern technology that allows me to connect in the fast lane when necessary, I find it does little to cure my occasional sense of terminal uniqueness.
To me, faster doesn’t always mean better. Slowing down to listen and make connections with my neighbors can feel countercultural in a world that wants as many friends and followers as social media will allow. But instead of striving for 1,000 new friends with whom I can communicate in 140 characters or less, I might find it much more rewarding to make a few “slow” connections.
And with that, I need your help in focusing on our fellow South Carolinians who are making big differences through local, “slow” connections. Looking ahead, we’re taking this Dialogue off the interstate and heading toward back roads. I would like to seek out real engagement and focus on growth and opportunities in our local communities.
Whether it’s innovative teachers improving local school districts, compassionate caregivers providing hope and comfort, or energetic volunteers rebuilding their communities one brick at a time, let’s explore and share the stories of South Carolinians working alongside their neighbors to find real solutions to shared challenges.
Moving forward, I hope to hear stories from your own communities about neighbors coming together in inspiring ways. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and then meet back here each month for the next installment—stories of communities turning challenges into opportunities for growth and connection.
Are you part of a community initiative? Share your story with the readers of South Carolina Living. Write to:
The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina
808 Knox Abbott Drive Cayce, SC 29033