I wasn’t the fastest runner in high school cross-country. On a really good day, I would place in the upper echelons of the pack, but generally, I was one of those kids who got a participation ribbon. I accepted the ribbon and quickly moved on to whatever drinks or goodies were standing at attention on the nearby table.
Nowadays, I haven’t any idea where these ribbons are; somewhere in a box, probably. I wonder where the idea for participation ribbons came from, and how they have inadvertently become a sticking point with some folks, targeting “millennials” who grew up getting handed participation ribbons at the end of (almost) every sporting event.
It’s clear that someone in the past few decades came up with the idea for rewarding people who do not place in the top tier of races, challenges, or tournaments with participation ribbons. With the advent of televisions, computers, and gaming systems, it seems a challenge just to get out the front door once per day. The noticeable cultural shift away from earthly and social participation may be the reason some form of positive association, like ribbons, was thought to be necessary for people to be involved.
I recognize that participating in community events, social clubs or school activities may not be for everyone. Admittedly, it takes some effort to get me out the door on cold days. But, you know what? Once I’ve moved away from the comfort of my house and experience the fresh air, I really begin taking notice of the environment around me. Not my house, but my real home.
Many folks in this changing world don’t seem to feel they have time to participate in the real world that surrounds them. It’s so easy to be sucked into a virtual world on a screen in a warm house, but there are so many places to visit in Fillmore County, that one couldn’t get to all of them in a day. There are scenic byways, trout streams, hiking trails, river access points, small businesses, and so much more; all are accessible to the public.
I know it’s cold outside. The wind howls and cold bites but seeing the changing colors this fall was magical (okay, it’s science, but you get what I’m getting at). The sense of calm that comes from being surrounded by nature for a time really hits home.
On the evening I wrote this article, the sunset was a beautiful display of pastels and warm oranges and cotton candy pinks reflected from the clouds all around. The scene is so unique every time, and I can’t help but think, “that’s the sky, that’s real, and it’s not on a screen nor is it in my imagination.” The simple, everyday occurrence of a sunrise and sunset make getting outdoors worth it.
I hope we aren’t letting real life pass by too often when we plop down in front of a screen or shrink into a dangerously comfortable routine of “home, work, sleep, repeat.” Seeing the sunrises, the sunsets, the people you visit, or places you see, offers a continuing relationship with your surroundings and sensory experience that no HD LCD screen can rival. It’s real.
The people I spend time with and the land I live on is why I choose to live here in Fillmore County. It’s not just where the house is, it’s where home is.
I encourage you to check out the calendar of local events. See what’s happening right outside your front doorstep. Is there a place you have heard about but never been? Take an adventure in your neighborhood. The more we participate and engage with people and the environment around us the more it becomes our home and not just where we live. I can give you a ribbon, if you want.