Photo courtesy Ken Colwell
This week, the world lost a very special lady, a lady who faced many of life’s hardships and yet always seemed to present herself with grace and gentleness. Although Maya Angelou was never a farmer, we farmers can learn a lot from her attitude and composure. As a poet, she left behind much wisdom we can apply to our day-to-day lives, but today, as I was reading about her life and thumbing through her insightful words, this quote stuck out at me:
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
One of my favorite things about being part of the farming community is everyone’s attitudes seem geared in this direction. We farmers don’t always have a lot of money. We don’t always achieve the highest stature in society. We’re not out to climb career ladders or become world famous. But farmers hold the unique qualities of embracing their callings, living them out passionately and always being true to the core of who they are.
Recently, I visited an herb farm, and although the owner had been growing herbs and putting them to use for many years, she was just kicking off her first farm-based business. However, as most of the country experienced this year, the tough winter left many of her established plants dead and spring storms had washed away newly planted seedlings.
To many, this may seem like an unsuccessful venture, but her attitude didn’t reflect that at all. She exuded a love for her calling to farm—it’s a part of who she is—and she was putting it into action in the very best way she saw possible. As a result, the land looked alive and despite the challenges she faced this season, her business was off to a running start.
Success is many things to many people, but I can’t help but adopt this definition presented by Dr. Angelou. Aren’t we happiest when we’re comfortable in our own skin, busy doing the things we love and doing them in a way that reflects our values? If you don’t consider yourself a success, maybe it’s time to start reexamining these three things:
- Do you like yourself? If not, what is it you don’t like and what do you need to change?
- Do you like what you’re doing? If not, what do you like doing and how can you go about making that you’re life’s work?
- Do you like how you’re doing it? Maybe you love farming but you want to take your crops in a new direction or you want to adopt a new kind of animal or you want to try a method that puts less pressure on the environment. If you’re not farming in the way that makes you happy, it’s time to make a plan for change.
As we can all attest, life isn’t easy and the farming life is downright difficult at times. But just because it’s hard or your experience a setback, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Today, I want to encourage you with Dr. Angelou’s words because your love of the land is special and I want it to bring you joy and happiness in return.