How to explain what it's like to live in Mason?
It's one thing to tell people about how we live our lives from day to day. It's quite another to talk to someone who is considering Mason as their new home and to try and consider all the variables about how well, or even if, they will enjoy living in our community.
Over the years, I've watched people make the decision to load their lives into a Uhaul, move the family and all their possessions, and live their lives as residents of Mason. Some have been so successful that their families have now been here for generations. Others stayed for a year or two before moving on to other opportunities.
What makes the difference?
People who choose Mason because of an idealized concept of what it will be like here usually last the shortest time. These are the folks who have watched The Waltons and Andy Griffith for years, and they want their families to have the sense of community and the respect for tradition and values that were the cornerstone of those shows. Those, television shows. Those constructs of fantasy filmed not in the hills of Virginia or the back roads of North Carolina; but, on a Hollywood backlot.
In real life, families don't always get along. Husbands and wives don't always stay together. The good guys don't always win. And, the truth does not always set you free!
After people have lived here for a while, they discover that many of the problems they were simply attempting to leave behind have followed them. The marriage is still troubled. The children still have problems with drugs. The debt doesn't go away.
But, what about those others who have made a successful transition?
These are the people who want the experience of living in Mason to be an enhancement of their existing lives, not a replacement. They realize that it's going to be different living two hours from major metropolitan areas, and they welcome the chance to make new friends carpooling and traveling together. They know that, in a small town, everyone will know more about you than you ever imagined anyone knowing; but, they will use that knowledge to help when things aren't going well, not to cause bigger problems. And, they realize that existing in Mason financially means being industrious, hard working and creative, as opportunities do not always exist but have to be created.
The families who succeed in moving to Mason and making a life understand that, to live a life, one must be involved in it. That means shopping locally when they can. That means joining some clubs and organizations, not as a social opportunity; but, in order to help the community they've adopted. That means being willing to share their knowledge when it's needed; and, being willing to learn from those who are already here when that is a better option.
I'm excited that two of my best friends, and their three daughters, have decided to make the move. When someone I know tells me that they want to live here, I am often very nervous and have concerns if they'll be able to feel at home. With this family, I'm feeling a sense of gratitude and excitement. Rather than worrying if they'll be able to fit in, I'm relieved to see my friends moving into a life that will fit them like the proverbial glove.
I've known them for many years, been through all types of situations, watched them build wonderful lives. I've stood with them as they married, stood at more than one graveside, and shared hopes and dreams through many years.
By the end of the summer, I'll welcome my friends as new members of the Mason community. I'll be there to answer their questions; but, I also know I need to give them room to find their own friends, their own routines and their own lives. I think Mason will enjoy all they have to bring to the mix, and that in a short while, we can celebrate the newest additions to our Mason family.
It’s all just my opinion.