You could say I’m a reluctant convert to Jackson, Tennessee.
Prior to accepting a job at Union University, I had only ever been to Jackson once—an emergency bathroom break at the Starbucks on Vann Drive.
Even when I agreed to the offer, it was with a begrudging sense of the inevitable. My wife Beth and I knew if we turned down the job it would be the wrong choice, but there was nothing in us that relished leaving the vibrance of a city we loved for the sluggishness of a lackluster town we didn’t know.
Driving down I-40 in a Budget truck I reasoned, “They asked for two years, but it will probably be three. It wouldn't make sense to buy a house if it was less than three. No more than four. Oh, man, what am I doing here?”
I was more ambitious than I realized. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew I needed the thrill of innovation. Exit 82 felt like a inexplicable detour into the mundane.
And it was. But it was also the best thing that ever could have happened to me. The twenty-five-year-old version of myself was about to confront what felt at times like a rude reality of life:
No matter where you are or what you are doing—no matter whether you have the job of your dreams or you don’t even know what your dreams are—the mundane is not your enemy. The heart and attention turned in on itself is the enemy.
And it helps that the mundane rarely lasts long.
I walked into my new job expecting to teach and mentor college students caught up in the monotonous routine of their studies. But a tornado devastated the campus, and I ended up doing disaster recovery and post-traumatic student support.
The church search turned up one good church after another, and they all blended into an indistinguishable clump of good options. Then we sat down at a table and found ourselves energized by a former art teacher with a heart for starting a new multiethnic family of faith.
I found a rhythm to life in the office after the tornado. And then fatherhood happened. Fatherhood began to feel manageable. And then we found out a little boy was on the way, set to be born when our daughter was only nineteen months old. Gulp.
After seven years in the same job, boredom crept in and the infinite loop became mind-numbing. Suddenly a side experiment in escape rooms—just a creative outlet intended to add a little margin to our family budget—exploded and transformed into Jackson Escape Rooms, then Waco Escape Rooms, then Murfreesboro Escape Rooms, and then an escape room lab called Hammer & Wolf.
On this side of a decade in Jackson, I’ve shaken off the fear of routine, predictability, and simplicity. I’ve embraced the “mundane” as a gift—an opportunity to create, imagine, and transform.
Whatever opportunities may arise—be them the addition of a third child or a role on a network reality competition show—Jackson is my home, my place in the world.
A jack-of-all-trades with a curious nickname, Lee "Wolf" Wilson has worked in construction, photography, higher education, junk hauling, and college ministry. Recently, Lee has developed an appetite for adventure and evasion as a fugitive on CBS’ Hunted—but more on that later. Lee's focus is building Jackson Escape Rooms through developing our brand profile, marketing the business, and exploring strategic opportunities for developing and expanding the scope of our current immersive entertainment offerings.
tags Jackson TN, Tennessee, Stay731, #stay731, Lee Wilson, Union University, Beth Wilson, mundane, tornado, church, City Fellowship Baptist Church, fatherhood, LifeGroups, Jackson Escape Rooms, Waco Escape Rooms, Murfreesboro Escape Rooms, Hammer & Wolf, escape room, community, family