Sometime ago I wrote a piece called The Recovering Farmer. That was at the outset of my blogging experience. Now I am using the term more and more. Somehow it makes sense. Recently I was on a radio interview. My sister heard it, sent me a text suggesting it was a good interview, but curious what a recovering farmer was. I found myself unsure on how to answer that.
The use of the word “recovering” is normally associated with alcoholics who are in recovery. As in quit drinking. I checked the Encarta dictionary. One of the definitions for “recover” is “to return to a previous state of health, prosperity, or equanimity”. That probably says it all. That tells me that the term recovering could be used in many situations. Recovering Mennonite (do I need to recover from that?), recovering accident victim, recovering cancer survivor, recovering golfer. The list could be endless. All of them refer to a return to something. And for all intents and purposes, something better.
I asked a colleague what she thought the term meant. She provided me with the following definition. (My apologies to her, I am using this without her permission) “I would say that a recovering farmer is someone who worked tirelessly through blood, sweat, and tears to produce nourishment for the world in spite of the fact that markets, nor individuals, pay tribute to their toil. To recover from farming is to let go of all one’s losses…..while not forgetting their contributions.” (Me thinks she is still in the recovery mode)
I asked my wife what she thought. She commented on the fact that farming, like other things, can be difficult to let go of. People often know that staying in farming is not beneficial to health, prosperity or equanimity. However they fail to see that there can be a better life. Much like an addict who knows, and remembers, when life was better, but, being caught up in their life, they cannot see past the life they are in. My wife also reminded me how I had always been concerned that I did not know what I could do, job wise, if I did not farm. Something I have heard from others countless times.
There are two things that resonate with me when I hear those two definitions or opinions. One is that we become immersed in our situation. We feel we can do it. We find it difficult to admit that things are not working out. The human spirit takes a real blow. Secondly we find it difficult to let go. Letting go creates a certain vulnerability. And we hate being vulnerable. We don’t want to be viewed as weak. As failures. As someone that should have known better.
Inevitably a person hits bottom. They have nowhere to turn. They desperately want something better. Often times that initial first step can lead to regrets. Often times it is those first days, months and, sometimes years, that can lead to second thoughts. If only I had. . . , I should have. . . , I didn’t. . . . However, with the right plan in place, utilizing supports, talking about it, and a ton of positive energy, people can, and have moved on to a positive life, a life of fulfillment and satisfaction. A life where you can return to health, prosperity and equanimity.
As for myself? Health has improved since I moved on, both physically and mentally. The prosperity piece I am working on. Finding work but buying lottery tickets occasionally for my retirement package. Equanimity? Look it up. Means a more balanced frame of emotions. I am working on that as well. There is hope. And that, quite frankly, is why I call myself a recovering farmer. I am recovering. And thank you to all who are helping me recover. Make it a good one.