I wander about, on a road to nowhere, in the midst of a landscape blanketed with corn in all directions. My thoughts become louder than my voice. They begin to resonate with the land for no-one to hear. I am reminded of what it is that makes Dakota special.
I think people often associate this place with the mundane. “All you do is farm,” they say. “South Dakota? I hear they ride buffalo there”. “People actually live there?…they must be deranged”. Perhaps the confusion comes from a simple misunderstanding. That is, that the lack of distraction provides an excellent medium for communication with oneself, nature, and ultimately god.
The people of this land tend to keep to themselves. They have a relationship with the earth, and the earth reciprocates. The Dakotan region lives quietly, its people do the same. Those who dwell here are generally stoic, rugged, and strong. It is an agrarian society based on value derived from the land, and the necessity to persevere in the face of adversity. These people know the weather personally, because their relationship with it goes back far longer than I have been alive. They are much the same as the seeds they sow, growing with the land, and being cultivated by it. They breathe the same air that their crops breathe.
The openness of the land here is conducive to a very pure form of spirituality. The rolling fields of prairie resemble an ocean and are rich with god’s love. The sky looks down upon all of creation here. Its gaze, unhindered by large bodies of water, or rocky, mountainous terrain. The breadth of what was once an ocean, is now home to a unique breed. Their homes sparsely dotting the horizon, in what appear to be largely uncivilized areas, indicate a lifestyle of not isolation, but connectivity. A connection to the vast expanse of prairie, ebbing and flowing like a lazy current in the Atlantic.
The Dakotan wind whispers its secrets to me, as it makes it way through bountiful thickets of prairie grass. It speaks to all of creation. It tells me that I am not above, nor below. I simply am. All around me, the world inhales. It matches my own breathing. In that instant, I am one with it all.
This writing is a manifestation of my thoughts and perceptions of Dakota, coming directly from my stream of consciousness. It is written by James Willard, a sophomore at Augustana University studying computer science.