During my current quest for an appropriate job, I have even applied to positions in remote and obscure places like Bend, Oregon and Normal, Illinois. But I am not yet sure if I will ever accept the jobs, if offered. Having lived in a big city or at least near one all my life, I sometimes feel a wee bit skeptical if I will last long in a small town. People who have lived in the crazed fast-paced cities like New York or Mumbai find themselves frustrated elsewhere and know exactly what I am talking about.
Big cities always have a vibrant energy that keeps you on your toes and plenty of things that can occupy your mental and physical capacities. I don’t think an individual with a high absorption quotient will ever be bored in a city that has much to offer by the way of its cultural, entertainment and social life. The cosmopolitan environment with its innate ability to attract people from all walks of life defines the cultural ethos of a big city like New York or Mumbai and constantly changes, making it all the more exciting. Art exhibitions, concerts, wide array of social life, or simple congregations of people erupting in mindless hysteria keeps you guessing and yearning for more. More people also mean more people you can hang out with and leaves you with plenty of options.
But I am not entirely sure whether I want to dismiss the thought of leaving the city entirely. I may have had my share of city life and wish for a welcome change by renouncing it all. I can finally fulfill my wish of building my dream house, impossible to conceive in a city unless I stumble upon the next big idea of the century. Of course, the large house will let me enjoy my privacy and company of at least two dogs. Give me few close friends and a small family that I care to associate myself with and I don’t find myself complaining too much about too few people around. I just might be relieved by slowing down the pace of my life by, in
Wordsworth’s W. H. Davies’ words, stopping to stand and stare. I think I have inhaled enough carbon monoxide for a lifetime and wouldn’t mind my share of clean air with an ozone layer to boot.
I don’t believe that any town, however little lacks character or identity; we just have to settle in as it unfolds slowly to welcome you to its folds. It may lack the immediate urgency of a city life, but then if no one around you is in a hurry, why should you be? Give me a local café to hang out and a big enough bookstore to browse; I think I will be content. Of course, you will not achieve the heights of your vocation living in a remote town but if your work is worthy enough, success follows you anywhere. Of course, success is a relative term. You may not have a glitzy social life with pictures splashed across page 3 but you can hike the canyons and ridges with your outdoorsy friends for days together with no tensions weighing heavily on your mind. But of course, the vistas in the country are much wider than the perspectives or the range of knowledge of the people that live there. Nothing against the rural simpletons but the world is much more complex than pure air and rolling hills. Dissemination of knowledge is often dictated by the flow of information through different networks, most vital being the informal connections. You will definitely not be at the cutting edge of your field unless you like to be cocooned in a self-sustaining complex like Microsoft or CERN. Precious time will be lost and you will not be considered as a part of the network in your vocation. There is much truth to being there at the right place at the right time. If you are the individual who wants to climb the rapid ladder of success in your professional life, you will definitely feel stifled out in the country.
Like everyone, I am a person with shifting priorities. Let me take the turn when I come to it. Maybe I wouldn’t have to make a black-white choice. Right now, I am happy living in a medium-sized city which at times, gives you a small-town feel if you know where to look.