I know “they” say you aren’t supposed to dwell on the past. However, I think it’s important to occasionally review the road traveled. The point is not to bemoan what can’t be changed but to gain objectivity and apply it to your present. Where have I come from, how far have I climbed, who did I used to be? What did I learn from all that? Am I still on the right track?
I’ve been spending a lot of time in introspection lately as I’m planning on drawing from my hot mess marriage and farming experience for my NaNoWriMo novel. (Hey, write what you know, right?)
Lately it seems that looking backward is akin to watching a movie reel. The setting is familiar, the characters are known, it evokes a wide range of feelings. Yet it is difficult to relate to as it’s so wildly divergent from my current reality.
I’m sure I could write a book about how I’ve changed post-marriage. This isn’t really a post about how living with a controlling, abusive, narcissist alters you. I just don’t have that kind of time today. However, more than that has shifted – habits, work, friends, even my geographical location.
One of the things that particularly stands out is how agriculture is not a job but a lifestyle. A small scale, for-profit, family farm slowly starts monopolizing every aspect of your life. Three years ago, all my efforts, all my skills, all my energy was devoted to the farm. Even my writing was focused solely on marketing efforts. My social outlet was limited to interacting with customers at farmer’s markets. Every free thought, every daydream, each hope and fear, fixated on farming.
There was no time for music. I couldn’t travel, vacations were unheard of. When I did somehow manage to squeeze out a few minutes of stolen free time, I was so exhausted I couldn’t enjoy them. I was filled with reproach for relaxing, when the To Do list kept growing.
I had no work/life balance. The farm wasn’t just my life. It became my identity.
Don’t get me wrong, I found a lot of joy in farming and I was damn good at it. I still miss it. My fingers still itch to plunge into dark rich soil. Watching a ewe bring a glorious new life into the world in a poignant tangle of blood and pain would take my breath away. There was immense satisfaction in hard work done well. The perspective gained by living so intimately with the seasons and cycles of life is unparalleled.
Yet I was one dimensional.
I’ve come to learn that my soul needs diversity to thrive. I crave theater and music and art. I need days devoted to climbing mountains. I require creative outlets that allow me to explore the great unknown. I need to touch living things. I want to know how things work and learn new things. I deserve moments of guilt-free leisure.
Most of all, I need to take risks. To try hard things. To know that fear never ruled me.
I want my life story to be “at least she tried” not “she wished she did.”