We have all heard the tenants and arguments of nature versus nurture, or environment versus genetics in human psychological development. There are also the formative years, the first ten years of a human’s life that set our core values, mores, emotional and behavioral thoughts and responses. Whether the human condition is pre-ordained, by environment or genetics I have no idea. With me, I know it was a combination of both. There are genetics involved but I am also a compilation of people that have passed through my life and left an indelible mark on my heart, personality, thoughts and feelings. I am what I have experienced and pieces of those who have touched me.
I was reflecting on how there has been subtle changes that have taken place in me that makes me a totally different person from the one whom left the city back in 1990. Events that individually would be innocent yet turn into something that could challenge your existing belief structure (like having to take the life of a living creature) or are mere distractions (like a chicken in the tree) or having to deal with a rat living near the chickens and feeding off their feed. We did dispose of the rat and turned the den over frozen ground and all. Rats and chickens make a bad combination and a recent egg recall would bare that out.
When I step back and look at the bigger picture, I realize there has been a major shift in most facets of my life. From my business dress (at my full-time job) to my outlook on any given situation, be it dangerous, personal, risk, weather, infestation, bee or wasp stings, snake removal, having to put chickens down you raised from a day old, or even the physicality’s that I encounter with tasks (unloading a ton of corn gluten, one fifty-pound bag at a time). In case you have for gotten a ton is two thousand pounds. I am vested in today and what it may bring. I plan for the future, but today is the only thing we really have. How often do we look back and say “remember the good old days?” well today is that day. The past cannot be changed and future cannot be manipulated, but today, today we can do something about.
I learned that life can take a turn and you find yourself navigating the curvature barely able to control, when grip loses out to inertia and you think for a split second the worst. Yet, you find miraculously you navigate and stay the course in order to react to what comes next. Three years into our stay on the farm, my wife almost lost her life.
It was not farm related but the strenuous work did not help her either. I learned in Psych 101 that it takes a "significant life event" to change the behavior developed in the formative years. Her illness qualified as one of my life changing events.
When she got ill, nothing in my life mattered anymore. I know it is cliché’, but it is true. My only other concern was if the cat was fed (we did not have chickens yet), other then that I focused on what I needed to do to get my wife past this. I just wanted to get her healthy and out of the hospital, that was my single-minded goal. From the time she entered the hospital until the day after the operation I was at her bedside making sure she was getting the best care.
While we were waiting for her operation, I was told of the dangers and risks associated with the surgery. The hospital then informed me that I had to get a will, power of attorney and other forms signed and notarized in case my wife passed away during the operation. Because I have a friend that is a lawyer, it was not as hard a task as some people would have had. I was forty-four and I had to prepare for what might be the demise of the most important, influential, supportive and loving person in my life.
The night before surgery we had to sign all the documents with witnesses and the notary. While I was explaining the documents to my wife, she was signing and then I would sign then the witness and then the notary. The hospital room was filled to capacity yet at that time I have never felt more alone and scared. I was stead fast in my outlook and support while facing my wife. “We are going to get through this”, I told her as the room emptied. I ended up sleeping in her hospital bed that night. For all I knew this might be the last time in my life I could sleep with her. I know I dozed sometimes but when you sleep in a bed made for one you do not sleep.
It all started on a Sunday night. Two hospitals and eight days later, after life threatening surgery, I was loading my wife gingerly into the car for the trip home. That time and watching my wife healing has changed me. How I look at things and react has changed. I see that life is precious and way to short. That being a good person matters, being a good corporate citizen matters, helping your community and giving back matters. Not all the money in the world is going to make you feel better about yourself. You think it will, but it does not, look at the millionaires’ and billionaires’ over the years, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Soros, Gates and all the others that have amassed huge fortunes only to give most of it back to society in the form of social philanthropies. Why do most of them do this? Because, giving makes you feel good.
What matters to me now is that each day I get another day to spend with my wife and show her how much I love her. That I give back, whether it is taking our spent layers to soup kitchens or to grow the freshest and safest food we can grow, or to simply educate people about the perils of the industrial food complex. We get to show how sustainable farming is going to protect us today and into the future. In the mean time, we all should enjoy today.
BUY LOCAL: Support the poor judgment, of those of us, who toil to grow you safe, fresh, healthy foods.