On Being 8
Some recent events in non-land related parts of life forced me into a brief but serious period of self-examination in which I asked Self some pretty important questions. We all know that our current situations in life are a result of various decisions, obstacles, accidents, bad/good advice, and bad/good luck. In fact, after conducting a scientific poll of friends and acquaintances, I learned that very few are now doing exactly what it is they started out loving. And that made me sad. So I dug deep and thought about a time in life when what I loved and made me happy was pure and virgin territory; not yet shaped by cultural/societal expectations or tainted by outside opinions and advice. It’s just what made my world…..bright. I was about 8 years old.
So Self made a list of what was so great about life when it was 8 years old. This required some determined concentration in order to roll away lots of years and strip things down to bones. I absolutely recommend attempting this exercise. It’s best to do old school style. Dust off a notebook, dig out a pencil, and pour a (few) glass(es) of wine. Then, remember.
It turns out my list was pretty short and quite simple. I loved horses, apparently very much, because it was the first thing my hand scrawled out when thinking as my 8 yr old self. Followed by “quiet, open spaces,” “being with animals,” “finding old things,” and finally my “best friend.” That’s about it. That’s basically all it took to rock my world when I was 8, and upon reflection, I realized that’s exactly the same stuff that matters to me now. And it probably appears that I’m happily flitting around enjoying the same things I loved then that I love now.
Not so much. The reality is that all this stuff gets buried along the way, doesn’t it. I’ll spare you the over-examined list of responsibilities that plagues all adults. We’ve all been there (we are there!). It wasn’t until we brought home that first little box of peeps almost 3 years ago that something, all of those little things, were rekindled. Literally it was as if I remembered ‘Oh yes! I DO LOVE CHICKENS! And BARNYARDS! Pastures! Rolling pastures!!!! Holy crap. Where have you been all of these years?’ The chickens, at the time, they were a small thing – but they led to the land, led to the fence-building, the animals, the remembering.
The point, oh yes, there is one – the point is that forgetting what causes joy, the pure kind we experienced before maturity set in, that forgetting sure comes easy. And I, for one, have had enough of that. In small ways it’s comforting to remember who you were, what you loved, waaay back, and to realize you’re still in there. I happily checked off each item on my list (save for “horses” but the donkeys are at least a poor substitute for now).
Each of these pieces are slowly creeping back into my world, and some of them never left. So when people ask (and boy do they ask) why we bought the land, spend weekends in manure, and spend good money on hay I know the answer now is- very simply-it’s what I always loved.