Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Cares of Tomorrow

Tomorrow IS another day!
Come by the hills to the land where fancy is free.
And stand where the peaks meet the sky and the loughs meet the sea,
Where the rivers run clear and the bracken is gold in the sun;
And the cares of tomorrow can wait till this day is done. – Celtic Thunder

I awoke this morning with a full agenda. Due to a “series of unfortunate events” I was unable to do any real work around the property for the last week or so and that can often spell disaster for certain seasonal projects around the homestead. I could hear the weeds drumming out the “Jaws” theme in the background and they were the LEAST of my worries. The garlic needs digging, the corn needs cultivating, the pole beans need staking and the hawks have been picking off the chickens almost as fast as we crank them out. (I won’t even get started on the fencing and home repairs that are always on the back-burner!)

So I had my list made. As I was lying there during that last hour before sunrise, I tried to steel myself for the day ahead. It is so hard to play catch-up on a farm. In “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephen Covey used that very analogy comparing a farm to human relationships:

Did you ever consider how ridiculous it would be to try to cram on a farm – to forget to plant in the spring, play all summer and then cram in the fall to bring in the harvest? The farm is a natural system. The price must be paid and the process followed. You always reap what you sow; there is no shortcut.

So I rose from bed happy enough. I LIKE to work, after all. After a cup of coffee, I was at the GottaGetItDoneGottaGetItDoneNow!Now!Now! stage. But something didn’t feel quite right. I found myself drifting back to Covey’s “Time Management Matrix” in which we learn that a gosh-darn lot of the things we believe are urgent, simply aren’t important in the first place when we look at the bigger picture. And even if they are important, they may not be as urgent as we’ve come to believe. And sometimes things don’t have to be urgent at all to be truly important.

Nah, GottaGetItDoneGottaGetItDoneNow!Now!Now!

‘cause this farm LOOKS like….(snap!) And there was the beginning of wisdom, the fact that my list was prioritized to make it LOOK like a dynamic, orderly person lives here. She does, but she’s been on vacation or something. J

I remember when we first moved here. I was wound tighter than a fiddle-string! Took me YEARS to learn to relax and stop worrying about being on society’s “schedule”. And you know the schedule I speak of. When we live and work around the movers and shakers, we must always LOOK busy. We must always be in pursuit of some lofty goal or idea. Our yards must always be trim, our houses must always be in good repair, our cars must always sparkle, and we must never, NEVER admit to having idle time. If we aren’t constantly busy, we must not be successful, and we’d better hope no one sees us slacking off or they might call the Slacker Police. God only knows what THEY would do!

And there’s nothing wrong with order in the country or on the homestead. The problem arises when we impose an artificial aesthetic order on an already perfect, natural system. I’ve watched over the years as others have moved here to become “country mice”. Most are not successful at actually living the country life because they’re too busy acquiring money to buy “things” they’ve always believed equate success. (Usually the very “things” they wanted to get away from in the city.) And even though they don’t always arrive with an agenda, there seems to be an endless list of meaningless busy-work that must be fulfilled by such-and-such date. You can almost hear the mantra in their heads: GottaGetItDoneGottaGetItDoneNow!Now!Now! So they can go back to work in the city on Monday and tell everyone how busy they were over the weekend. Or so they can brag to extended family and friends how hard they work to be able to afford to live in the country. And lament how hard it is to live next to us “slackers”.

I realized at that moment this morning that my “schedule” had been laid out according to the way I needed things to “look” and that any urgency I might be feeling was simply insecurity and inadequacy over my reflection in the Social Mirror. In spite of the fact that there ARE a number of urgent things needing to be done, I realized that today was a day for choosing important over urgent. If we are to have a bountiful harvest this year, a few weeds encroaching on the peppers seems like an awfully small wrinkle compared to the fact that I have no new transplants ready to go into the summer garden I’m about to till and lay out. I opted to clean up the hoophouse/seed starting area as it’s a terrible bottleneck between seasons. I sat down with the cuke, melon and squash seeds and worked out a plan for how many of each to start. I scrubbed down the porch, watered and fertilized all the perennials in the yard.

And then I started a couple flats of flowers, just because I could. There’s plenty of time tomorrow to get down to the nitty-gritty business of homesteading. And something tells me all the dirty jobs will still be there waiting for me…. J

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