Saturday, November 28, 2015

Land of Lincoln Making an Appearance

I have the pleasure of being one of the last in the month to add to this blog. What I enjoy in reading these blogs is the diversity of experiences, of places, of lives. From the Great Northwest to the Butt End of the Caribbean, writers using their voice to give a hint of what might have brought them to this place at this time is interesting to read.

If I were to script my life, it would have been filled with as much variety of experiences as I could fill into each day, but instead, 30 years ago, I took a job as a forensic toxicologist with the Illinois State Police. It has been a wonderful career, with fascinating cases, published papers, court testimonies and two murder-mysteries, all from a base in Springfield, Illinois.

Would I call Springfield the melting pot of diversity? Ahhhh, NO.
I would call it a safe place but safe in the way a child peeking out from behind their mother's skirt feels safe. A place where tuna fish from a can is pretty exotic stuff to some.

Museums, parks, art galleries, and theaters... Well, if you count the museum with the re-creation of Abraham Lincoln's cabin, where he's reading by a fire and an art gallery where you can walk home with the painting if you pay for it, technically we do have these features. Plus, we are host to the Illinois State Fair, where you can get anything battered and fried, if you can get it on a stick.

But, in all my tongue in cheek description of this state capital sitting in the center of Illinois, it offered me an opportunity I could only have gotten from living in Springfield. When I accepted a position, which required me to visit all the forensic laboratories in the State, monthly, I became a veteran of the road. Four hours to a lab, four hours back, listening to the radio for hundreds of hours.... until one day.... I turned off the radio and as I drove through the flat prairie fields of corn and soybeans in silence, I listened to a story, in my mind, and the story lead to a book, and the book lead to a publisher, which lead me here to you reading and participating in this blog.

As a writer and a scientist I often consider the Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and wonder if it applies to us. It says you can never simultaneously know exactly where something is and exactly where it is going. We constantly have the choice to step off from what is known or hold tight to it. I think Springfield holds tight but its most famous citizen, Lincoln did not. When I can, I choose to step off that known path; certainly not as much as some but more than others. The challenge is recognizing when you are being offered that step.


Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds a bit like the Arkansas I grew up in.

S Connell Vondrak said...

LOL. Diversity makes us stronger but good people can come from single notes.

Liane Spicer said...

Susan, this is so fascinating to me. To those who think the Caribbean (or anywhere unfamiliar) is exotic, your everyday is equally exotic--to us. Interesting philosophical insights and imagery (driving through fields of corn and soybeans! Cool!) not to mention that Heisenberg principle thing. (Hey! I'm humanities, okay?)

So glad we had this themed month where we could get to know about each other's places!