I decided to go outside and take a walk yesterday because I was so tired of being inside the house. But it was cold. I had to put my coat on because I’m tired of being cold. I thought, maybe this is the last time I’ll have to put my coat on this spring. There are all kinds of things I do every day that I don’t like to do, and
sometimes often I think, I wish I never had to do that again.
But what if I really never had to wear a coat again? Would that mean I’d moved to Jamaica? I’ve been to Jamaica. I don’t want to live there. I want to live in West Virginia. And If I’m going to keep living here, I’m going to have to wear a coat again–and probably this spring.
What if I never had to trim the goats’ hooves again? Would that mean I didn’t have my goats anymore? What if I never had to lug feed out in the mud to the chicken house? Would that mean I had no chickens? What if I never had to milk Beulah Petunia in the snow again? That might be a bad example. That might just mean I got organized and got her bred so I could take the winter off milking….
I do any number of things on a regular basis that are difficult. In fact, I do any number of things that are more difficult than they have to be. Sometimes I think back to how my life used to be and how easy it was. I like challenge, so I created challenge for myself in various ways, primarily by relentlessly attempting to sell books to New York publishers. That’s really difficult. I didn’t have to do that, but I would have been bored if I hadn’t and would have taken up mountain climbing or something. People left farming in droves decades ago, in part because it’s difficult. Difficult is, in part, what attracted me to farm life.
Which doesn’t mean that sometimes it’s not difficult to embrace the difficulty. But then, if it was, I wouldn’t want to do it. Similar to people who really do go mountain climbing. Part of the attraction is the risk, and if it wasn’t risky, they wouldn’t enjoy it as much, even if sometimes they’re scared.
If everything about living on a farm was easy, there wouldn’t be nearly as much satisfaction in it. And even on the worst day when I’ve had just about all the satisfaction I can stand, I wouldn’t trade living on a farm for anything easier.
I love this cold, muddy, hard life. And there are probably as many reasons why people move to the country as there are people, but I believe one reason is because there’s not enough innate challenge in the world today. It’s too civilized and convenient, and in a world filled with convenience, there’s an oddly tempting appeal in inconvenience and the challenge of a more difficult life.
There are other paths to pursue to add challenge to one’s life, of course. The farming life is just one, very special one, of those paths, and it is, like all paths of challenge, not about the destination but the journey.
Yesterday was a relatively easy day. The hardest thing I had to do all day was put on my coat.