The monthly, or so, column I write is a chance to let you — Kansan readers who I love dearly — get to know me, and for me to show I can be a deep thinker. That so very often that thing I experience has much deeper meaning than what is on the surface.
And as I contemplated this column, my mind kept going to a lede graph that could be a doozy. It went something like this:
Last week I was standing at the base of a statue — the world's largest statue of a crow. The 31-foot crow sits on about a 40-foot base, and rises out of the Minnesota prairie seemingly out of nowhere. It is stark and strange. On our third trip past this monstrosity, I had to stop. I had to truly experience this thing. I had to sign the guestbook.
As I stood there, trying to frame up a selfie for Facebook, I came to a deep realization.
That, however, is where that ends. I did not have one of those deep realization moments. All I could do is keep thinking, "Who in their right mind would build something like this, and who in their right mind would spend a half-hour of their life staring at it? Moreover, who in their right mind would spend a bunch of time writing about it?"
Not a lot of depth.
It is one of my good friends who popped into this whole thing with the depth. A short, pithy comment on Facebook did the trick:
"Barth Hague: Man, you really know how to live, Chad."
Now, I will be honest here. I have not talked to Barth. I'm not sure of the meaning of his comment and if he was joking. But I know how it was received, and what that comment has meant to me. It was, and is, a compliment.
It came on the heels of me posting a Facebook Live video of said crow, a day after a Facebook Live video of a destination playground in Minnesota designed so mobility challenged children can play with their friends — and how cool my kids think that playground is and that we need one in this area.
I had also posted pics of a tour of "Troll Park" in a tiny town that I had never heard of until my in-laws moved there.
I was experiencing things. I was living.
Barth and I have talked about a lot of different things in our lives — running, riding Amtrak trains and life in Newton in general. Barth knows how to live, too.
I take his comment as a compliment. One does need to know how to live.
For me, that means whenever possible slowing down and experiencing something.
The Garden of Eden in Lucas. The Sioux Nation in Nebraska. The Independent Museum of Telephony in Abilene. The Day Out With Thomas if you can find it. Iowa Hall in Iowa City. The Spam Museum in Austin, Minn. The Kickoff To Kinnick 5K.
You never know what it is, or where it is. But there is something to experience. It means getting in touch with our inner Clark Griswold and insisting that the family stop for the World's Largest Ball of Twine (Cawker City, by the way) and experiencing it. Explore a little.
This world is a really interesting place, slow down and see it. You can start right here, if you so desire. Walk to the store instead of drive, and soak in the neighborhood. Bike out to Centennial Park for the Blue Sky Sculpture and a baseball game. That really is what knowing how to live is about — slowing down.
For me, that is not easy. There is always more to do in a day than day to do it. Slowing down for something takes effort and a decision. It is, however, always worth it.
— Chad Frey is the managing editor of The Newton Kansan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.