Yesterday when I told a professional woman that I was leaving my career partly because there was too much to do around the farm she said: ‘So, you appreciate farming?’ ‘Yes!’, I said emphatically. If the setting had been appropriate I would have asked her what she meant by that. Instead, I had to go away with my own interpretations of her question.
In the dictionary, ‘to appreciate’ means:
1. To recognize the quality, significance, or magnitude of:
2. To be fully aware of or sensitive to; realize:
3. To be thankful or show gratitude for:
4. To admire greatly; value.
5. To raise in value or price, especially over time.
What does it mean to appreciate farming? Well, my answer to her was to the question ‘do you like working on a farm’. Yes, oh yes I do. Here are a few other spins on the question with my answers:
1. Do you know what you are giving up your stability and security for? Because you need to realize what farming involves since there isn’t much monetary return for your efforts. Coming from a government job with a decent salary, I have set myself up for a lot of hard work at a fraction of the pay but the benefits have been greater than I could have imagined. The pay can be reasonable too on a good day but that’s a whole other story.
2. So you know what it takes to be a farmer and have accepted the lifestyle with its hardships and gains? I would say I know what it takes as much as anyone could – at least as far as our operation is concerned. I’ve yet to meet someone who finds farming predictable. I do realize the magnitude of our choices.
3. Do you accept that you won’t be traveling to Italy every winter – instead you’ll be driving the backroads in a beat up truck? We’ll probably find a way to get to Italy again somehow. But we also like to explore around here. The experience can often be just as memorable.
4. So you get the importance of what farmers do and you want to be part of that? I do know the significance of growing food. Its central to everything I say, I hope. There is much to be grateful for.
I have always imagined the word ‘appreciate’ to refer to a work of art. I have never applied it to a career or a lifestyle choice. I might appreciate something someone has done for me – held a door when my arms were full. I can appreciate the extent of effort or talent that went into something. But how I pass my time? How I make my living? Never thought of that.
How wonderful to be given the opportunity to see my life as a work of art! In the end it doesn’t much matter what the woman meant with her question because the process of looking at that word in this context was delicious. My life affects me in a way that I want to be affected. The things I do in a day move me in a direction I want to go. The full spectrum of feelings that arise as my day unfolds makes me feel awake and alive. Hopefully some of the things we do make others happy too.
I appreciate my life. Man, could it get any better than that?