My writing persona would lead the reader to believe I have been down lately. Maybe I have been but, if so, I think it was due to our recent illness. Among other things, that cold was an effective weight-loss strategy. Let’s count our blessings today beginning with an extreme contrast.
Look, I get it. It’s an expression of hopelessness and frustration and anger at a feeling of impotence and the lack of understanding by tourists who think they can pretend to belong. Let’s focus on the chorus.
You will never understand
What it means to live your life
With no meaning or control
When you’re laying in bed at night
Watching roaches climb the wall
If you called your dad he could stop it all
You know, I don’t think I’ll ever understand what it means to live my life with no meaning or control. I am not a slave. And, honestly, there are any number of people, including my dad, I can count on for help.
And maybe that’s what saddens me most about the song. The singer is lonely. He claims to dance and drink and screw because there is nothing else to do…not because that’s a recipe for a fun Saturday night. And maybe there is nothing else to do. And maybe nobody cares. Maybe there are no jobs, no food and no escaping the trap…like the siege of Sarajevo. But mostly the song is about loneliness and envy and loss of community. And I think that’s sad.
I have spent a lot of time writing about my relationship with Julie and how that relationship rates in importance above the farm, above my job, above almost everything else. Even above the children. My relationship with Julie will last, potentially, another 50 years after my children move into homes of their own. Only my relationship with God will last longer.
But I have to invest in other relationships as well. That word “invest” is carefully chosen. I don’t have any money. Whatever you think of me, whoever you think I am, whatever your perception of my lifestyle, I don’t have any money. None. I have a few cattle. I borrow my farm from the bank. Our one vehicle has 173,000 miles on it. But I am fantastically, amazingly rich because I have surrounded myself with people who genuinely care about me. And because I have a library card…and Amazon Prime…but let’s not focus on that right now.
Let’s start with my parents. I love my parents. I love my mother. Do you know what I hate more than anything? I hate fixing computers. I would rather go to the dentist. But I’ll work on my mom’s computer because I love her. And I know she loves me. My dad is quite probably my best friend…though I don’t quite have a peer relationship with him because that’s not how it works. But I can talk to my dad about anything. Whatever is going on he has always been there. He has always been supportive and solid and secure. Anything I need…anything at all. Dad is there. And my parents have continued to love me through some pretty rough stuff.
I am under the impression that not everyone maintains loving relationships with their family as was illustrated by the song above.
And it goes far beyond family. Julie and I have surrounded ourselves with a community that loves us. My goodness, friends came over Saturday to help us butcher chickens. Now that’s friendship! How can I ever repay the Carpenters? I don’t know. But that’s a problem worthy of my attention. One problem we are facing, as I related in a recent post, is our distance and isolation from many of our friends. We have to make time for others in our busy schedule. We have to make time to drive to town. Not only do I have to take Julie on dates from time to time, I have to make time to sit and play cards. Make time to visit. Make time to listen. We have to make time…this is not something I am good at. We have to put our phones down, stop doing chores and just be in the moment with our spouse, our family and with our community. It’s hard but it’s important.
Because I have friends and family I will never understand what it means to live my life with no meaning or control. I am reasonably confident that if I’m in need, if I have made a series of bad decisions or am simply down on my luck I can call someone for help.
And that’s how agriculture works. If you want to live like common farmers do, you help friends and family with their computer problems and you help butcher chickens and you hang drywall. You celebrate children’s birthdays. You invest in people. You plant seeds in people’s lives and harvest the reward…love. Sometimes love is expressed in the form of help getting the hay in the barn or the chicken in the freezer.
That’s how you live like a common farmer. That’s how you get through the hard work. You lean on your loved ones. You laugh together. You work together. You happily sacrifice your own wants in preference to their needs…knowing it will come back to you many times over.
I have to hope that the common person illustrated in the song – a suffering, lonely person drowning in a sea of suffering, lonely people – finds meaningful connections with others. Money won’t cure envy. Education won’t stop you from feeling like a victim.
If you want true wealth, plant seeds in other people’s lives. And cast a little bread upon the water.