By Joey Tillson
April 05, 2010
The other day I had lunch with an out of town friend. Her and
I had gone to school together in Juneau for many years and for
29 years of my life, I lived in Juneau but was born in Ketchikan.
It was wonderful to catch up with her and discuss how our lives
had changed and progressed.
In the middle of the conversation, she leans in and says, "No
offense, Joey, but why did you choose to live in Ketchikan? I
mean, I know you have family here but the buildings are run down,
the town is falling apart and it feels kind of dirty. I truly
mean no disrespect but after living in Juneau for so long, why
is Ketchikan your home now?"
I didn't have to hesitate to tell her and jumped right in with
my explanation. "After living in Juneau for so long, something
was always missing in my life there. It wasn't family because
I had family there too. Don't get me wrong, Juneau is beautiful
with all the man-made scenic points, the laws that prohibit run
down property and the better shopping but Ketchikan has something
Juneau has always lacked and I didn't know it until I moved back
here as an adult.
It was the sense of community. No matter what walks of life the
people have in this town, we all share in the experience. We
are family with no blood ties for some. It doesn't matter what
mistakes you've made in your life, the judgments passed against
you, if you or a loved one falls on hard times such as a fire,
cancer, death; the community comes together to help. Complete
strangers will donate their time, energy, money, love, to help
you, regardless of what mistakes you have made in your life.
No matter how ugly and unkempt the buildings are, I can see the
beauty amongst all the ugliness. I see the flowers growing amongst
the weeds. No, we don't have a man-made scenic point every 10
feet, but amongst all the rain and ugliness during the day, in
our lives, I can see the most beautiful gifts among the people
I can't find the sense of community in any other place I've visited
or lived. I found it here, it's community. It's beautiful and
it's all about coming together as a community and we are family.
That's what was missing in my life everywhere I went." Then
She looked at me and said, "Wow. Maybe that's what's been
missing in my life, too. You speak very passionately about it
and I think that's what's been missing in my life too."
So when you think Ketchikan is the reason your kids are using
drugs, dropping out of school, or why your life is a failure;
look around you. Investigate other places and I can guarantee
you this, this IS your home if only you choose to see the forest
amongst the trees, the flowers amongst the weeds, the sunshine
amidst the rain. It's all up to you in how you live your life,
how you view your life around you. Are you going to be a part
of our community? It's up to you.
Ms. Joey Tillson
Received April 02, 2010 - Published
April 05, 2010
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