The Recovering Farmer

Monday, July 29, 2013

Turning Back The Clock

How often do you look back in time and wish you had done things differently? I know I do. I second guess decisions I made, particularly as it concerns my stint at farming. There is a reason I call myself a recovering farmer. There are a host of regrets we have. However, you seldom hear of someone that regrets something positive in their life.

In a recent conversation I made the comment that if I had done things differently on the farm the results would have been better. (Although being a hog farmer my chances were slim based on the industry over the last years) The person I was chatting with made the comment that if I had done things differently it might have turned out even worse. That made me think.

I just finished reading a book. All 900 pages. A book by Stephen King. Not an author I particularly like. However I had been told that the book 11/22/63 was interesting. It was. Only about 450 pages too long. If you plan on reading it don’t read the rest of this paragraph. Might give away the plot and that would make it even longer. In the story a person travels back in time, from 2011 to 1963, to stop the assassination of JFK. Because he knows the details of what happened on that fateful day in 1963 he has the ability to stop it. He accomplishes the task, comes back to 2011, only to find that he has changed the course of history and the world is much worse off.

An interesting turn of events, to say the least. It hammered home the point I made previously. Perhaps if we were to turn back the clock things might turn out worse. Kind of defeats the purpose of having regrets. A paradigm shift, to say the least.

That then simply means we need to live with what we have. We live in an imperfect world. Crap happens. How we deal with that becomes the issue. Read a quote on Facebook this week which said “when something bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you”. Somewhat of a stark reality. When I look at those three options it would seem that the third one would be most conducive to a brighter future. When something bad happens let it strengthen you.

I have written in the past about different people I have met over the years. The gentleman that was in a horrific accident. The fellow who lost his eyesight. My friend who had cancer surgery. Kids that have experienced shattered dreams. All of them have shown incredible strength. Sure, in their darkest hours or days, they lament the negative events in their lives. We all do. However, in general, they have shown resilience that I can only learn from.

Another book that I have read more than once highlights the lives of numerous people who have had life changing events happen to them. The author, in the preface, makes an interesting point. “Without that which hurt them, derailed them, almost destroyed them, they might never have undergone the forced emotional evolution that gave birth to their new, stronger self.”

Someone once told me that had I not experienced what I did I would not be who I am today. Here is hoping that that was a positive statement. That may be true. But am I who I want to be? One of the people I mentioned above told me that he was getting tired of being an inspiration to others. Sometimes I feel that way. I just want to be normal. Then again, maybe, just maybe, I am. Make life changes before life changes. Make it a good one.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Life Lessons

I have been watching the British Open. Oops. Pardon me. It is The Open. Things change. It still is the same tournament held every year over in Great Britain. Completely different golf courses than we are used too. Called links golf. It has been rather interesting. Players appear to be befuddled. The course is playing difficult.

For those of you who don’t know, links golf courses differ from most of the courses in North America. They are basically situated on wide open fields. No trees. Lots of bunkers. Difficult to distinguish where fairways end and greens begin. Can play difficult because balls have the tendency to roll. Go to places that no one wants to experience.

During play on the second day I found myself chuckling, noticing the reactions of players when their plan did not work out. Who am I to chuckle? I found myself in the same debacle last night. Nothing seemed to work out. Good thing there was not a lot of money riding on my game.
As I watched this afternoon I found myself comparing life to what I was witnessing on TV. Players were getting very frustrated. The commentator made the comment that players needed to be patient. Just like in real life. Often times we face un-certain circumstances. I know I do. Then we get impatient. We want the misery to end. We make decisions that are not always in our interests. We need to practice patience. One step at a time.

I saw players congratulate each other when a shot was made, a putt sunk. Not because it was spectacular. Rather because the course was playing so difficult that when a player did make a shot others were happy for them. We should do that more in our lives. Why is our natural response to withdraw? Why do we actually, at least sometimes, feel happy when others fail? To make us look better? We should be more supportive of others. It sure feels good when we have a support system cheering us on. The key is that very seldom are we on our own.

I saw some players lift their hands in defeat. Asking, what can we do? They were ready to give in. The course was throwing all kinds of surprises at them. They had a difficult time figuring it out. They were getting tired. It was debilitating for them. Again, just like life. We try so hard. We try to adjust to the environment we are in. We change our ways. Far too often, all for naught. We throw up our hands. We ask why.

This morning as I was watching the final round the leader, and I kind of hope he wins, made what the commentator claimed was a horrific error. Perhaps that was overstating it just a bit. However he also suggested that after a shot like that there was a rush of blood to the face. Hey, I can relate. I remember that. Certain phone calls, especially from creditors, certain events, certain decisions. All can send us reeling. How we respond to those situations becomes integral.

What is my point to all of this? I have no idea. I enjoy watching golf. Challenging tournaments like The Open add to the excitement. Perhaps I like watching multi-zillionaires like Tiger fail. Whatever the case there are life lessons to be learned from most anything and everything we do. It is a matter of taking the time to think. To relate. And to learn. Just as an after thought, a lefty won. I think all left handers are cheering today. I know at least two who are. Make it a good one.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What’s In The News

Have you watched news lately? What is with all the tragedies happening, not only around the world, but also relatively close to home? In answer to the question, no, I don’t watch a lot of news. I used to. Every morning. Half an hour of Canadian news and half an hour of American news. I suppose I got to the point where I felt “over exposure “ to news. I talk about “over exposure” in my stress management workshops. I have experienced it. I have heard from others who have experienced it. I mentioned some time ago that my son had linked me in to a news website that only reported good news stories. That helped. At least temporarily. Then I realized I couldn’t relate anyway and so I have quit reading those stories as well.

What about the massive train derailment in Quebec? Unbelievable. The first thing that came to mind is the movie Unstoppable. The story of a train that, through human error, goes barreling down the track putting lives at risk. We have all heard the saying, “stranger than fiction”. Now we are witnessing it. Through “alleged” human error a train loaded with crude oil derails in a small community in Quebec. Created a holocaust type event. Looked like a war zone. Many people still missing. Incredibly sad.

There is the plane crash in San Francisco. Just read another article on that one. The NTSB is still trying to figure out what went wrong. It would appear, based on initial reports, that it is human error. The amazing part of this story is that there were only two people that died. Have you seen the pictures? Now it turns out that one of the girls that died actually escaped the crash only to be run over by a fire truck. Come on. Really?

Then we have the story of the running of the bulls in Spain. Latest report, only three people gored. As if we don’t have enough problems already it would appear that we are looking for ways to get hurt, perhaps even to die.

This morning I perused the headlines again. More tragedy. More sadness. It does not help when one already has serious questions about life. About our very existence. It gets to the point where even finding a happy place becomes difficult.

Last week I went on a radio show and talked about stress management and conflict resolution. At times I feel like such a hypocrite. Let me tell you why. As you know by now we live on a golf course. This morning I noticed a golf ball laying on our property. I was tempted to go get it. I didn’t. This afternoon, as I was sitting on the deck enjoying the sun, someone walked on my yard and picked up the ball. I looked at my daughter, she looked at me, and we let it be. Five minutes later we looked at each other and both agreed that we should have made an issue about that. Why? When my wife came out and enquired as to what was going on I told her the story and then suggested I was going to go put a another ball there just to give me an opportunity to take a strip off . . . . Woah. Hang on. What is going on here?

That seems to be the theme these days. Having an urge to lash out at someone. And if worse comes to worse, create a situation where I can lash out. Seems to me I have some work to do. Get over this negativity. Get on with life. I am golfing. The weather is good. Kids are good. Wait a minute. My grandson is in California having a good time. Perhaps I am envious. Perhaps I miss him. I am on it. Make it a good one.

Monday, July 8, 2013

What Is It

Summer has arrived. With a vengeance. Not that I am complaining. I love the heat. Not that many years ago I would wilt with these kinds of temperatures. Not anymore. I remember one Christmas, approximately 2004, when the temperatures dropped to -44. I swore high and low that I would never complain about heat again. Every time I am tempted I think back to 2004. Proves the point that it is mind over matter.

As I meandered along the golf course yesterday I reflected on a story I heard last week. I use the term “meander” rather loosely at this point. When you meander on a golf course it simply means your shots are most anywhere except down the fairway. Not a problem. It was a fun meander, if there is such a thing. Doing what I like to do.

Back to the story I was reflecting on. I happened to be a guest on “the nighthawk”. CJOB. 10:00 in te evening. Way past my bedtime. However, there I was. The host made mention of a situation in Ontario where 27 million bees had died. 27 million. That is a huge number. Kind of blew out of the water anything I had to share. And as I said to the host when I left, for all intents and purposes I don’t really care if all the bees die. Obviously my tongue was firmly planted in my cheek. Okay, so I don’t like honey and bee stings really upset me. I have to keep in mind the wonderful things bees contribute to our food, our flowers, our fruits. It is called pollination.

The reason I was reflecting on that number is because my golfing partner that morning asked a question about mosquitos. And trust me, there are many questions to be asked. They are bad. As bad as I have ever seen them. So bad that it becomes difficult to stand still when you are trying to concentrate on a golf shot. I should not complain. They are part of summer in Manitoba. Having said that, they were never this bad in Wawanesa. Perhaps that is God’s country.

My golf partner simply asked me how many mosquitos there might be in all of Manitoba. Interesting question. Wait a minute. How many are there in any given cubic foot? That might be easier. Reiterates the point that the mosquitos are bad. Not only that, they appeared a lot smaller this weekend than they had. That simply means it’s the next generation. Here we go again.

Some questions are difficult to answer. We may never know how many bees or mosquitos there are. Quite frankly we probably don’t care. Sometimes, though, it is difficult to answer questions that are important to us. The title asks “what is it”? That is my question these days.

We wait and wait for certain things. Things that are high lights in our lives. I was waiting, desperately, for summer to arrive. Here it is. I am golfing more than ever. My golf game is actually acceptable, in spite of the fact that I lost some money yesterday. My work is good. Kids are doing well. What is it? What is it that brings about a certain sadness? Brings a lack of motivation? Brings out the anger? So difficult to figure out.

Perhaps I spend too much time analyzing things. (I suspect my wife would concur with that one) Sometimes it is a matter of letting go. Things will not always go my way. We may never find the answer. But for the most part, life is good. It certainly could be worse. Make it a good one.