My curiosity of the world has taken me through 57 countries and 6 continents. The breath of this perspective is even hard for me to comprehend at times. For sure some experiences have gone the way of forgotten moments, but the overall arch and theme still burns within me.
The theme would be a desire to deepen my appreciation of the world and celebrate the gift of life that has been bestowed upon me. I was not created to just pay bills and pass away. I dared to dream, and now often use this perspective to challenge others, in particular school kids, to do the same.
It is with this foundation of curiosity and passion that I set out to explore Nebraska. A project I am calling: Explore with Dean-Your Nebraska. There are so many distractions and worthless time grabbing noises in our culture, and I sense we have forgotten how to appreciate or celebrate what we have right in our backyards.
I don’t see this as a summer project, but a life long project to capture and experience the magic of Nebraska. To deepen my appreciation of: from where we came, who we are and what we aim to be. Nebraska is not a random place, the weather cycle here does not allow one to casually go through the motions and land here. Countless people have passed through Nebraska over wagon trails, dirt roads and rails, most determined to find something better.
A few stayed.
These columns will be dedicated to those who stayed, who came before and found a home. And to those who have followed afterwards, whether by birth or choice. There are more comfortable places to live in the United States, warmer places in the winter or cooler in the summer. I know, I have lived in some of those places. But there is something special here that is hard at times to explain.
I have felt we have nothing to prove here in Nebraska, and don’t feel compelled to convince anyone who attempts to make the joke that it is a drive through or fly over state.
People are free to think what they wish.
But those who understand the value of honesty, are willing to look you in the eye when you talk, or authentically wish you a good day, I have time.
My life style still has me traveling abroad, seeking new experiences, new sights, and new friendships. But I always find my way home back to Nebraska. A good friend in South America once shared with me about the numerous people she had met from the United States, and how often many of them were apologetic about where they came from.
“You are different,” she said, “you always proudly declared you were from Nebraska, not from a place of arrogance, but from a place of gratitude.”
It is with this foundation of gratitude that I set out to explore our Nebraska, to rediscover our history, uncover hidden treasures, make new friends and deepen my appreciation of home.