"It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn." B. C. Forbes, Scottish-American financial journalist (founder of Forbes)
This morning we met our neighbor, Randy, on the road where our rural mailboxes are located. Randy’s license plate says “ol farmr" because he has been an orchardist for most of his life.
We each put down our windows to say “hello” and do a quick catch up. I’m particularly eager to do this because I have heard some news of a harvest directly related to a seed Randy planted some years ago.
Randy’s story is a wild one. Unusual. The kind we see movies about at Christmas. To me, it’s a story of what one little ole person can do ... particularly if they have the mindset of a farmer.
Randy’s story teaches me that I can have another exceedingly valuable tool in my response to stress, to huge upsets, to harm, to attack, that goes beyond the typical fight, flight, freeze options. I can also “farm.”
On September 11th, 2001, Randy was in Washington D.C. at an agricultural convention when al-Qaeda terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon and attempted to strike the White House. Randy’s hotel was just four blocks away.
Randy, like most Americans, felt stunned and exceedingly worried. This was not a mistake. We’d been attacked. I remember my distinct desire to find whoever had done this and wipe them, and everybody remotely related to them, off the planet.
Randy did not, however, think like most of us. Instead, Randy was thinking if there might be opportunities for us, as Americans, to build closer relationships with Muslim people on a whole different level. What?
Randy began to learn more about the former Soviet countries of Central Asia. He was particularly interested in the poorest country, Kyrgyzstan. He hoped to work with agriculture, fruit, to make a positive impact and give people an opportunity to get engaged building their country, especially the thousands of deteriorated fruit orchards (when the Russians left in 1991, they took all the orchard equipment with them), rather than resort to radicalism. It was a lofty goal.
Twenty years later. Randy has been to Kyrgyzstan, taken others along, several times. He’s fallen in love with the country and the people. High ranking officials from Kyrgyzstan have visited him. Sat with him around his dining room table.
Last week a young man, not from Kyrgyzstan but from Kazakhstan, (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan are the other “stans” and neighboring republics that gained their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991), sat at Randy’s table.
The young man, only 24 years old, was a part of a small visiting delegation sponsored through Cashmere’s Rotary club. The club became interested in the region because of Randy.
Randy told John and me as we visited together there on our little country road in our cars that he felt that there was some sort of miracle involved in the whole Kazakhstan thing. It had been too wonderful, the friendships too perfect, to just have… happened.
Randy shared one story to prove his point.
“The young man who stayed with me. Well, he had just lost his father four days before coming here.”
Randy paused to let us take in the heaviness and significance of such a grief-filled event.
“My father died when I was twenty-one.”
Randy paused again, looked out his window at us both to see if we got the deeper meaning. The synchronicity. The two men instantly formed a bond from within the common well of shared human suffering.
By the time, the young man left, he was referring to Randy as his papa. At the airport, as the delegation left, both they and their hosts were simultaneously smiling and crying.
As we drove away. I pondered the world situation. Ukraine. Russia.
Bottom line. I think we should be more like farmers. Especially as I look around at the Christmas lights and think of the years of yearning for peace on earth. How can we increase the harvest?
The farmers, like Randy, could teach us by example how to creatively and patiently educate ourselves, look around for the opportunities, learn about the soil, the weather, and all the growing conditions for planting seeds and carefully growing things.
I want to cultivate what I’m calling a farmer’s state of mind. The weirdly beautiful and life sustaining response to things not going my way.
I’ll have plenty of opportunities. Things can get nutty during the holidays. Tempers flare. When things go south, instead of doing the typical stress responses when emotionally hijacked:
· get revenge –fighting,
· check out –fleeing,
· stand there like a deer in headlights - freezing
I’m going to remember Randy and... FARM. Think long term and consider how I might do something totally different with a good harvest in mind.
This December might be the perfect season for planting a seed for something miraculous and journey together to The Good Life?