Life Lessons from the Farm

The train may have been picking up speed as we left the city, but the pace of life outside was slowing down. I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief as I left the infinite slabs of concrete behind me for a greener and slower way of life. As the trees grew thicker the shocking bursts of autumn colors became more frequent until it eventually became a blanket of oranges and reds that comforted me, and my nervous excitement began to settle. You would have thought I was going on a grand adventure, but it was just a 2 hour train ride to Kent where I was going to spend a day and change catching up with an old friend on her farm.

Other than the obvious motivation of seeing a friend I hadn’t in years, I was eager to actually get to be on a farm. Maybe there are some city folk who’ve been on farms or fruit picking or what have you, but I haven’t, at least, not since I was very young. And after reading Omivore’s Dilemma and learning about the state of our food and agricultural system, I was looking forward to actually heading to a farm myself to connect to my food.

Lately I’ve been tackling these kind of existential questions about lifestyle, happiness, life visions, etc. The reverse culture shock I experienced coming back from Spain wasn’t so much a shock as it was a grueling and intense process of self-reflection, constant doubts, and a feeling of being utterly lost. Fortunately, with the incredible benefits of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo paired with good friends and lots of chocolate, I’ve been gaining more and more clarity as time goes on, and all of those drops of clarity coalesced during my time in Connecticut.

Kate and John, a.k.a. the Food Cyclists, live in a way that I find nothing short of inspirational. After biking across the country they eventually found their way to CT where they partner with others to live and grow food in a sustainable way. The path they took was not at all conventional, or similar to the one our generation seems to have been groomed for. Instead they decided to take a risk and see where it took them. Farming is arduous work that requires

so much time and dedication but they are living true to themselves,  creating along the way a vision that brings them and their family joy.

I mulled all of this over as I watched the morning mist lingering over the water, reluctant to disperse. A sudden splash from behind me reminded me of the resident beavers who are waging a battle with John to complete a dam despite the fact that he keeps tearing it down. I could have stayed there all morning with nothing but the silence surrounding me and the cold air nipping at my face. The quiet comforted me, erased the clamor of the city that constantly floods my ears.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle of work and the frenetic energy of NYC. Taking a step back is something that can be hard to do if you don’t intentionally take the time to do it. The same can be said of wherever you live, because life is complicated in all parts of the world. But there’s something to be said for living in a simpler manner. Throughout the day they pass each other as the complete their chores, and they sit down to family meals. I find a profound sense of peace in a quieter way of life where you can sit down to a meal and truly enjoy the food and company, where you don’t have a lingering sense of guilt that you should be productive as you sit by the lake with a beer in your hand. Does that only have to happen on vacations? Can’t we have those kinds of moments in our daily lives? We’re all clamoring to make getaways the few times we can, but what if we tried to bring peaceful moments like those into our homes?

I had expected to come back from my mini-trip with a deeper understanding of farming and learning about where my food comes from, and while I definitely learned a few things about that, the life lessons I learned were even more profound. I am the author of my own story, words are what ground me, and my determination is simply this: to live deeply.