About My First Book Horizons and How to Order

Introducing My First Poetry Book, "Horizons"

  My first poetry book, Horizons (Atmosphere Press)  AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK AND AUDIOBOOK NOW!! SEE BELOW TO ORDER!!!! Embark on a captivat...

Monday, October 1, 2018

Lessons From Walking in the Fields

After years of walking in the fields, I have acquired many lessons.  Some of them I learned in training.  Some of them experience and time has taught me.  But in the hours of walking on cultivated soil, I contemplate these nuggets of wisdom.  They don’t just apply to growing plants, they tend to be applicable to a broader range of situations.  Have I been taught to scout fields, or to live life? 

Ò Don’t leave a field the same place you entered it.

When scouting crops, the farther I walk into and around a field, the better I get to know not only the plants and weeds growing there, but I discover any bad spots, exceptional areas, or places that need to be looked at more closely.  If I just drive by the field or look quickly along the edge of the field, I don’t get a true taste of what the crop needs and how things are developing.  There is a Girl Scout saying that is similar to this:  “Leave a place better than you found it”. 

In other words, not only clean up after yourself, but do even better.  Improve it.  In the same spirit, the point is that life isn’t something you want to have gone through and not tried to make a difference somehow.  If you just live on the sidelines, you won’t get to know yourself, have the opportunity to improve anything, or to make something or someone better. 

Ò Just because it’s dry and cracked on the top doesn’t mean the soil is barren and dry beneath—you have to dig under the top layer.

Scheduling irrigation for a field requires knowing what is going on with the roots of the plants, the past and forecasted rainfall, the growth stage of the plant, and what the soil is like right now.  Often, after a large rain followed by heat or wind, the top of the ground is cracked and looks dry.  But if I dig underneath, if I disturb the top layer, there is ample water underneath.  The subsoil isn’t dry, but actually moist.  It is still holding on to the rain and irrigation from before.  If I would judge the field by the cover, so to say, I would think it needed irrigation.  But that would be untrue.  If the top is truly crusted to a point where it is keeping plants from emerging or developing further, sometimes just a small amount of irrigation can soften the top enough to allow plants to utilize the moisture below. 

People are the same.  They may look rough, ragged, broken, run down, empty, stupid, vacant, or just different from you.  But underneath, everyone has depth and everyone has a story.  Every person has at least one quality that is loveable and positive and worth of acknowledgement.  Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”?  Introverts may look unapproachable.  A “differently wired” kid can look disinterested.  Someone’s face may just naturally rest in a pose that looks disgruntled.  A large man may look intimidating.  But you don’t know their story.  You don’t know their situation right now.  You don’t know what kind of day they are having, what they have been through or are tolerating.  If you just give a person a little bit of understanding, their good side will come through.  A little act of kindness can turn that rough outside into mirroring their true self. 

Ò Sometimes it looks worse than it is.

The day after a big storm, pickups can be seen cruising the countryside, the producers and consultants assessing hail and wind and flooding and erosion damage to crops and fields.  In soybeans, stems and leaves can be completely broken off.  Corn leaves can look stripped and torn.  Soil can be taken from one area of a field and deposited somewhere else, burying something that isn’t supposed to be underground or coating the surface of leaves.  Water can expose roots and knock plants down or flood the area, literally drowning plants because their roots can’t breathe.  Farmers are quick to call their crop insurance adjusters and worry about yield loss. 

Viewing those same fields just a few weeks or months later, many of them will have grown out of the damage.  Soybeans put on new leaves and extend auxiliary branches.  Corn greens back up and uses other areas of the leaves to produce the energy needed for grain development.  Roots “hold their breath” until the water recedes, and continue to anchor the plants in the soil.  Gentle rain and beneficial soil creatures even out soil erosion. 

All lives are exposed to events and times that aren’t particularly fun to go through.  Bad times will happen—that’s guaranteed.  Some people react quickly and dramatically, worrying about how things will work out.  Right away, you life may feel totally upheaved and ruined.  But in each situation, there is something to be learned.  Even if you have to “hold your breath” and just barely keep your head out of water, if you have to congratulate yourself for just getting out of bed in the morning, it does pass.  The pain lessens or is tolerable.  I have heard we are to ask ourselves, “How will this affect me in a week?  A month?  A year?”  That question is to give us perspective on the reality of the situation, and remind us that good times are coming, and something will come out of every mistake or hurt. 

Ò You’d be surprised what a plant can grow out of.

A plant can wilt, be broken, stepped on, crowded out, frozen, starved, go dry, and be tormented in a storm.  A plant can be whipped by the wind, be drowned, hailed on, and neglected.  But the natural defense of the plant is survival.  Extra branches will sprout, new leaves will be grown, plants will wilt and curl and protect themselves until water comes again.  Some plants go dormant when things are cold or dry, and the situation looks grim.  Do you notice how your lawn wakes up each spring?  How that bush greens up again?  How that weed you didn’t completely pull up re-roots itself and regrows?  How buds form on trees even before the snow and frost is gone?  Have you stepped on a flower accidentally just to see it perk back up in a few days?  Have you seen a plant grow between rocks, in the sidewalk, on the side of a mountain? 

Some of us may not have been given much nurturing when growing up.  Some of us were hurt, been in accidents, or abused.  Some of us fight illness or mental disorders.  Some of us are differently wired, or differently abled.  Every living thing has the urge to survive—not just plants.  People, too, have the natural instinct to heal and develop and grow.  And it is amazing how the human spirit is resourceful and determined and resilient.  We are designed to recover.  We are able to spring back from damage, whether it be physical, mental, intentional, self-induced, cruel, or accidental.  Scars may develop, but we grow.  We thrive regardless because we can.  Because we will it to be so.  Because we have a reason to go on. 

Ò You can’t tell the whole story just by driving by the field; you have to get out in it.

Have you ever been shopping and pass a young mother with a small child writhing in the cart or throwing a fit on the floor, and roll your eyes and think about how the mom should just discipline the kid?  Have you ever seen a person in their pajamas and wonder why they don’t take care of themselves and even get dressed decently to go out of the house?  Have you seen a grown man cower from a loud noise and wonder why he isn’t very brave?  Have you ever had a waitress that dismissed you and seemed rude? 

Each person has a situation they are going through.  Each person has relationships to maintain.  Each person has unique circumstances and their own story.  Just walking by a small moment in their life doesn’t give you insight on what is really happening there.  That mom?  What if she is an exhausted single mom trying to parent alone, on her last nerve?  The person in pajamas?  What if they are fighting depression and this is the first time they got out of the house, much less having the energy to pretty themselves up just to please you?  What if they have just gotten out of the hospital or chemotherapy and are trying to get a few things before they crash at home?  What if that man crouching is a veteran with PTSD whose mind still reacts to loud noises as if he is under attack?  What if that waitress just received bad news, or had a rough morning at home, or hasn’t slept in a long time because she is trying to work full time and go to school with a full class schedule? 

To really know a person and what their story is, you have to talk to them.  You have to be with them.  You have to walk in their shoes, see things through their eyes, learn their history.  It may be easy to judge someone and haughtily state that you would do things better, have a superior result, maybe have prevented the situation altogether.   But we each have our own holdups and faults and challenges and shortcomings.  We each have our way of dealing with things and we each have our own limits. 

Many metaphors exist in the telling of how to live life, analogies of directing our morals and values towards the more hopeful side of humanity.

Until a perfect growing season develops the perfect plant that yields the perfect crop, I will keep walking those fields.   

7-20-18; 9-19-18; 9-21-18; 10-1-18