I originally wrote this post in September of 2012 but it got lost in the shuffle and I never published it. I also wrote another, similar post (short attention span) but I feel this one covers it from a different angle. As I re-read now I am concerned that I come across as arrogant. That is not my intention. Julie and I have a wonderful thing going on here. We had a wonderful thing going in town too. Just lucky? I don’t think so. I think we have made a series of choices that benefit our family and our goal in this post is to encourage you to evaluate your own choices. Oh, and I may just be fooling myself. If so, let me be.
SO, Mr. Steward. You say it’s all work. Work, work, work. You wrote a whole post last year complaining about the workload from a “glass is half empty” perspective…as if to warn others to avoid farming at all costs. So, why do you do it? Why bother?
Good question! We live in a world of scarcity. At some point I’ll run out of pizza and coke within arms reach of the couch. Then I’ll have to do work. I’ll have to get off of the couch and either call someone to bring more pizza to me (work) or open the freezer, pre-heat the oven, unwrap the pizza (ugh! More work!).
Either way, I have to wait 20 minutes and it costs me money. And that money has to come from somewhere. I had a “managing director” tell me once, “Just because you’ve still got checks in the checkbook doesn’t mean there’s any money in there.” (That was his way of saying I should be happy I wasn’t getting a raise. (I was not.(He may have been implying that the company was broke and I should start looking…(I did)))). So now, unless I have a generous benefactor, I have to go get a job to make money to buy pizza so I can sit on the couch and enjoy life. All this because pizza and coke are scarce. Well, everything is scarce. How do you choose to solve the problem of scarcity while maintaining a high quality of life? I do it by working my tail off…you know, cause it works.
I’m going to share some measurable things about myself and some that would be difficult to measure. Then bring it around to the point. You’ll understand more as you read.
My life is above average. I’m really rather ordinary but my life is above the norm. I’m above-average height, average intelligence, average-looks (maybe even below average) but I married well and am truly blessed and can grow a fantastic beard.
Beyond the blessings I have made lifestyle decisions that have pushed me into the above-average category in a number of places. This could still be true if I lived in the suburbs but somehow I wouldn’t be “me” – the way I am “me” here – if that makes any sense at all. The farm makes me “me”.
Among any group of 37 year old American men my health is above average. I work harder than the average person and expect, in time, to be wealthier than the average person. My waistline is below average…which is good. I am stronger than average. I read far more than average across a broader than average range of subjects. I believe, based on experience, I can run 1/4 of a mile up a hill faster than average while carrying a dead 150 pound hog on my shoulder on a hot day in July or while carrying a live, struggling calf in October. These are objectively measurable things. But there are subjective things too. My happiness appears to be above average…at least above the average I have experienced and seen in others in my first 37 years (this may be measurable by the distinct lack of anti-depressants). I have more direction and purpose in life than average as a survey of my generation – many of whom seem to be sailing without a rudder. I think I’m more “me” than the average 37 year old guy is “he”.
This isn’t all a result of me living on the farm, though the farm functions as an outlet for me. It’s a result of living with purpose for most of my adult life. I haven’t begun to describe myself, just specific attributes that will help make my point. But what is the point? How is this applicable to you?
I’m not going to suggest that you sell your beautiful suburban home, move to the stix, home school your kids and start farming. Well, OK, I do suggest that but I admit it won’t work for a everybody. Well, it should be for everybody but it takes some convincing. Well, it takes a lot of convincing. So I’m not going to try to convince you in this post but I am going to get to a point in the next paragraph or two.
Behind your eyes is a person. The person back there lives inside a strange shell. The shell is not you. The “you” is inside…not outside. This becomes more noticeable as you age. “You” don’t age. The shell does. You may feel trapped in that aging shell. You may not know what you are doing in there…wondering why you can’t do cartwheels anymore. You may just be walking around daily following a set pattern for reasons that are not fully understood. Break that pattern. Begin by understanding your pattern.
Why did you get out of bed this morning? No really. Why? What was the point? What did it accomplish? Were you just going through the motions necessary to acquire more pizza and coke? I hope you are happy with your answer. If you are not, work to improve your answer. Find your purpose. Purpose! Do you watch TV when you get home at night? Is that what you want to do? What else could you have done with that time? What have you put off for years because you just can’t find the time? Is “Watching more TV” on your bucket list? What did you eat today? Why did you eat it? What happens if you ditch work today? Can you make plans to take some time off? Are you so enslaved by debt and lifestyle choices that you can’t? Is college so important that you should borrow $100k to attend? What does it cost you to work? Can you really afford for both spouses to work full-time? Will you ever be able to retire? What will you do with your time when you retire? Will your marriage survive retirement? There is a question living in the shell with you…nagging at you daily. What happens when you uncork your ears, listen the question and answer it honestly? Are you strong enough to do that?
Jeremiah 29:11 says I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.
What’s the plan?
I had a plan when I got out of bed this morning (I promise this will still be true even as you read this years later!). Did you have a plan? Find your plan. You could begin with a book like Sink Reflections. Fly Lady outlines a positive routine that may just get you in a pattern of accomplishment no matter where you are. That initial accomplishment (a shiny sink) may build the foundation for real purpose instead of just coasting. There is more to life than pizza and coke…more than Candy Crush and the latest episode of that popular reality show you talk about with the other people who are chasing pizza and coke. Go find it!
If we all do this we’ll raise the average. Then I could be more normal…ish. Maybe.