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Having a One-Sided Conversation

Hello readers. Long time, no post, right.


Starting a blog post is always something that feels almost unnatural. Recently, I had an “aha” moment while reading a fantastic book that I devoured. This realization came while sitting on a bench in Canal Park in Duluth, as the lake winds gusted in from Lake Superior and I was slowly getting the most unfortunate three-quarter sleeved sun burn. This realization was that no matter what written work we as readers are consuming, we are having a silent conversation with the author. After three years in college, I no longer can merely sit and read a book without a pen or highlighter around to highlight, circle, mark, and annotate along with the words that jump out to me. These moments of piqued interest and sheer awe of the word-smithery that I run across often times sparks a conversation with the author that they will never get to actively participate in. So, I guess what I am trying to say in this long-winded approach to a “hello” is this. Being a reader who actively engages in these silent conversations with authors, I guess I should be great at starting a blog post. Hello readers, thank you for engaging in this conversation with me.


This summer has been a grind, to say the least. Joining the team at West Central as the Communications Coordinator will forever be one of the most rewarding experiences, I have had in these 21 years of life. I had a teacher in high school, Mrs. Eckhoff, someone I have written about before. The wisdom that she imparted in me was vast and wide, but the nugget of life advice that stuck out here for me was the notion that comes from the song Humble and Kind by Tim McGraw.


“When you get to where you’re going, don’t forget to turn back around” the line goes.


That is exactly what I got to do this summer. I was able to do my part in the community that raised me and the communities across the nine-county region we cover to see how I could use my God given talents to give a hand up to those in need. While I am nowhere near where I hope to be, it was rewarding to bring the knowledge I have been filling my head with while away at school to the area.


While I could get on my soap box about the way our region is disproportionally affected by the digital gap and the trends that we see when you analyze the three main components of accessing high speed internet which are age, geography, and income, I will save it for my academic papers. The internet is a pipeline of information, but as communication coordinator I had to be aware of the fact that there are segments who need the services provided by West Central, that would never see them on the World Wide Web. We too many times sit from our privileged positions, reading blog post such as this one, and forget there are people who live in our communities who can’t access the internet to receive vital information that would strongly impact their health and well-being.


The notion of solving this impossible problem laid in front of me all summer. I tried not to think of it in the form of a math problem, because well, to be frank, I’m not very good at math. But what I am good at is looking at the big picture and deciding how to build a bridge, one toothpick at a time. The summer went by in the blink of an eye, and suddenly my last day spent in my windowless second floor office was in the books. I certainly didn’t solve the regions communications problems, but as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. I will be staying on part time with West Central as I go back to school, and that I very much am looking forward to.


I found my brain slipping far away from communication strategy and marketing tactics, nestled in my hammock under tall pine and birch trees, just being, in my old summer home of Sandstone, Minnesota the day after I left the office of West Central.



Minnesota is intoxicating to me. I come back and every sense of mine is so enthralled by the experience of being here. The feel of the Kettle River washing over your feet. The sound of wind through the pines. The smell of lake air, blowing in from Lake Superior. The earthy, rich taste of smoked salmon. The view of the horizon disappearing into the bluest blue I have ever seen. The draw to return after being in the “Middle Mid-west” as I call it was undeniable. Nearly a year to the day I left the intern house and made the journey south, I was back.


Not only was I back, but I was also back to the life-long friends I had made a year prior. The heart strings of true friendships are luckily very long. Tying us together whether we work at TWS, go to school in Kansas, work at a vet clinic in Michigan, or wherever else it is we have landed. It did my heart good to just be back in the land of a thousand lakes, but it did it even better to be with some of my people who made the first experience here what it was.


I am thoroughly convinced I am supposed to end up in this part of the world, even if only for a few years. Every gust of wind, splash of the lake waves, songs of the birds, seemingly is whispering my name to come back. Minnesota holds so much wild mystery and untamed beauty.


Suddenly I am almost to the length of a paper I will be writing for the summer class I am taking currently and have not even begun to divulge the specifics of my trip to the north shore or the hike through Banning state park. Maybe, just maybe, these stories are to be saved for another time, and another one-sided conversation with the readers of the blog.


While hiking today, I told my dear friend Tera, I will write a book one day. That day is not today however, therefore, I will end with a quote from Julian Ralph, an author who captured the complex nature and magnificence that is Lake Superior.


“But the seas of the world are salty, this lake is a colossal diamond - clear, pure, sparkling, lying like a heaven lighted gem in a bowl of rich greenery fringed with a lace-work of chromatic rocks that take on the most weird and enchanting shapes.”

The next leg of this adventure will include a stop in my college town before catching a flight to see another life-long friend in North Carolina.


Stay wild my friends, and thanks for engaging in this partial conversation.


-Clayton


Scenes from Split Rock Light House, on the crystal water shores of Lake Superior. Photos that will be part of a series I am going to call "Wave studies at Lake Superior" will be out soon I hope!



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