OUT IN THE COUNTRY — “This is what I prayed for,” wrote the Roman poet Horace. “A piece of land — not so very big, with a garden and, near the house, a spring that never fails, and a bit of wood to round it off.” Those words were written more than 2000 years ago, around 30 B.C. Today, we still recognize what Horace meant by a rural garden, a place to take refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The biologist E.O. Wilson believes that we still have within us a profound biological orientation toward what he calls “the right place,” a landscape that evokes the setting of early human evolution. Wilson describes it as “open, tree-studded land on prominences overlooking water.”
Last week, my wife and I moved belongings, body and soul to such a place as Horace and Wilson described. We bought a rambling, two-story house on eight acres of wooded land in Hinds County, between Raymond and Byram. Though we don’t have “a spring that never fails,” we do have a well and a pond. We believe that this place provides a setting for us to live out our days in tranquillity and peace.
Humans have needed a place of respite throughout our existence. Life has undergone drastic changes in the last century and continues to change daily. Our world has become a place of almost constant motion. We do not choose our places to live as much as we choose our work and try to make where we live inconsequential.
Until the mid-19th century and the spread of railroads, communities were much more independent than they are today. During medieval times, different communities even had their own unique system of weights and measures. One’s place of residence exerted a gravitational force that kept us close to “home.” Much of our sense of place has been lost as we live our lives at the speed of light.
If I am right in thinking that the meaning of life is found in the choices we make, we need to make our choices carefully. I fear that our rapid-fire lifestyles don’t leave much time for contemplative thinking about the important life issues we address daily. People are working longer, making more money, buying more “things” and living under a dark cloud of stress to keep the ball rolling.
Why are we living like this? Who is making us do the things we do? The answer is simple: We are doing it to ourselves. No one but we ourselves can make the choices for us that will slow our lives down a little bit so that we can make thoughtful choices about significant life issues. A blink of an eye and our lives are over.
I was blessed with parents who considered parenting their highest calling and we had a real home, not very far from our new house. For me, this move is truly going home. Once the “stuff” is unpacked and our life routine re-established, we look forward to the peace and quiet that country living inspires. I believe that the quality of our choices will improve substantially.
THOUGHT FOR THE MOMENT
My belief is that a man should be judged not by the duration of his life but by the donation. And our goals should be to contribute something meaningful back to the whole of society, to alleviate world hunger, to make the world a better place for those yet unborn, to build an everlasting peace throughout the world.
— GARY LAMB, a U.S. farmer
Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.