I often ride the train between Chicago and central Illinois. As Amtrak makes a slow crawl out of the City and into the heartland, the juxtaposition of opposites becomes extreme. Heartland has many definitions that are born from the individual’s perspective. To me, the term refers to being in the condition of the middle, where there are no landmarks and the horizon stretches in every direction. There is no beginning and end point, just continuous flat land. It is a pass through on the way to more earnest concerns north, south, east and west. Heartland also refers to this place as the quiet, silent engine that provides sustenance to the coasts primarily through corn and soybean production. It is easy to forget that every dot in the landscape that is a house and barn, represents a family who rise at dawn to till the fields and grow our food supply. Heartland finds its place in the nondescript, in sameness, and monotony. Yet given all those places like Chicago that are made of uniqueness, variety, and change, I glad we have this. It is the place where everything stops and we can just be.