I was never an overachiever. In most realms, I didn’t like to challenge myself. In high school, I took AP classes but never took the exams to get the actual college credits. In college, I baffled some of my gen ed professors because I preferred to take classes below my skill level rather than test out. I don’t know why I was that way, it’s just something I recognize now as a personality quirk. While I’m still not exactly an overachiever, I no longer shy away from challenges.
Learning to roll a whitewater kayak has been the most frustrating thing I’ve tried to do in a long time. I mean, tears, nervous stomach. I would get it and lose it and get it and lose it. And this was just in a nice warm, safe, flat pool. Every time I flipped over in a river, I just popped out of my boat and swam before I could even think about rolling back over. This, of course, was made entirely more frustrating because Jason, who began in exactly the same place as me, progressed much quicker. I watched him hit every roll in the pool in any boat he got in. I was proud and happy for him, but let’s be honest: it increased my frustration that I just wasn’t getting it.
And then came Sunday. We finally went to the extremely intimidating and challenging whitewater center so I could demo a different kayak than the one I’ve been paddling. I flipped over in virtually the very first rapid and lo! I rolled right back up! Oh! The momentous feeling of surprise and glory that overcame me will be difficult to forget. I rolled my kayak up in a rapid!
Life seems to be all about moments. “That moment when…” Our memories of these moments are essentially all we have. What I’ve learned from life and specifically from whitewater kayaking is that if you never step out of your comfort zone, if you never try something new (knowing you’re going to be terrible at it in the beginning or for maybe longer than you’d like), if you never experience frustration and fear and try it anyway, you never get to experience this moment of glory and joy when you finally succeed. It’s heady, that moment, and I will no longer trade it for the comfort zone.
I can find faces
In unexpected places
And post them on-line
Trying to live life
To its fullest potential
I find exhaustion
I’m surprised how much
Joy is found in middle age
Older is wiser
You know exactly
When you become middle age
Robot vacuum joy
I always seem to
Catch delight in every day
When gratitude reigns
It is time to start
Harvest, washing, pack, repeat
Spring is in the air
I’m in the office
Only one day per week, but
Field work is better
Are beneficial like our
Living in the moment is all the rage. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can see the benefit of that to some extent, but it feels a bit over hyped. I mean, we can’t do anything to change the past right? So letting it go seems the obvious choice. But we are borne of the past, forged in the crucible of not only our own history, but the history of everything.
I’ll tell you the story that has influenced this line of thinking for me. I’m not a fan of the whole “red vs. blue” forced dichotomous language and thinking, but I’m about to use that language here just to tell the following story. There is a blue belt across the otherwise solidly red south. It coincides with the location of a prehistoric inland sea. Yep, prehistoric, you read that right. The explanation for this blue belt is that said inland sea left large flat swaths very fertile land that were later turned into huge plantations that brought in massive amounts of slaves. This population affects our current political map, if you will, and thus, the PREHISTORIC inland sea affects our current political map.
See what I mean? The past is the past and I get that we’re not changing it, but we’re holding on to the residue of that past whether we acknowledge it or not. Or maybe the past is holding on to us, while we try in vain to cut the cords that bind us together.
This is how I’ve become a big fan of onion seedlings. They don’t pretend to leave the seed from which they emerged behind, they just carry it with them into the present. It’s a full acknowledgement that they are a product of history, and I, of course, love the metaphor.
There was a group of non-profit employees here years ago that were casually conversing with us beneath the packing shed. At one point, one of them said an entire sentence ostensibly in English, and I couldn’t understand a bit of it. Oh, I could understand the words individually, I suppose, but strung together in such a way transformed them into a language I did not, apparently, speak. Now, I’m a fairly well educated person with what I consider to be an above average vocabulary (not Tom Robbins level, but still), so this befuddling moment stands out in my memory. Every group, every profession, every everything it seems, has its own jargon and buzzwords. And that sentence was entirely made up of non-profit jargon and buzzwords.
I’ve realized lately that agriculture is not immune to this phenomenon. I’m not just talking about the technical jargon for soil, amendments, etc. It would appear that agriculture is filled with a rotating dictionary of its own buzzwords. And right now, “regenerative ag” is on top. It’s okay if you have to fight the urge to roll your eyes—I just did. And I guess that makes me a grumpy old woman. I remember when “sustainable” was The Thing. Every young farmer across the nation—including us-- was throwing their hat and their farms into the “sustainable” ring.
Yeah, we had to learn what it meant and how it was different than “organic”. I guess, looking back, that it was a backlash against the large scale organic farms that always seemed to be skirting at least the spirit of organic, if not the law. But organic was (and still is) the only thing with an agreed upon definition and set of agricultural methods. The only thing actually audited. “Sustainable”, when you boil it down, was just another hot buzz word. It’s definition a bit wishy-washy and varied depending on the farm and the perspective.
Twenty years later and there’s a new hot buzz word floating around the agricultural world and it means about as much as “sustainable.” I literally attended a webinar trying to explain what “regenerative ag” was and you know what? It’s as wishy-washy and variable as “sustainable.” Some people think X and some people think Y and there’s no agreed upon definition and my grumpy old woman self harkened back to Utah Phillips saying “no matter how new age you get, old age still gonna kick your butt.”
All this is to say nothing. It’s just another grumpy old woman ranting about “these young whipper-snappers” and their strange language, wishing she could regenerate an old body and attack the work of growing food with the gusto of the young
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.