The new year is often the time for people to identify goals and renew commitments to health, wellness, prosperity and whatever each individual feels is important at the time. While I am not one to write a list of resolutions for the new year, I will admit that I do often use the energy a new cycle brings with it to try to do better on a whole host of things. This year, I am making an exception and giving myself a resolution.
What Do You Feel and Think When You See This Picture?
Some who read this blog may be more familiar than others with this building and this perspective. Others may never have seen it in person, but maybe you've seen pictures in the blog. It doesn't matter - I just want you to take a moment to look at it and explore how this view makes you feel and/or what kinds of things it makes you think of.
Now try this one.
Can you picture yourself in this frame? What would you be doing? How would you be feeling? What would expect to see as you walked into the picture? What sounds are there? Is there any breeze? Do you smell anything?
And this one?
So, I have asked you to explore what you feel or think when you see some pictures from our farm. I've asked a few people similar questions over the years and I've had others just volunteer thoughts and here are some things I have had people say about similar sights on our farm:
- What a beautiful place! It's so peaceful.
- I could just sit here for hours.
- This place is so relaxing.
- You must enjoy living here.
- You need to paint the granary the rest of the way... I love to paint.
So, What Do I See?
Initially, all I see are things left undone that still need doing.
Yes, the granary needs paint. The trim and siding around the door needs to be finished and the old doors need to be fixed. We still need to find ways to exclude raccoons from the building and we have work to do to make more of the building useful to how we do things.
The next picture shows Casa Verde, which is currently uncovered after the plastic tore. We need to recover the building and do some work on vent on the other side. The Iowa hydrant in the front of the building has never quite worked as well as it should since we put it in, so that's a mild continuous stresser and there are some failed experiments in the picture as well. Oh - and you don't see the raised bed that desparately needed weeding just behind this.
Surely the flower is a relaxing picture for me, yes? Well, no. I know where this flower resides and it is in an area that needs to be addressed - especially if we want flowers again in the future.
If I think a little longer, I can transport myself into the picture. I can hear the door on the granary as I open it so I can get food for the chickens. It makes a rattling, squealing noise as it opens and I can feel the tug on the rope as I hang on to prevent it from slamming onto the roll at the top of the door. There are a couple of Barn Swallows that come swooping out as I open the door. They land on the electric line that leaves the building and make their chittering call to tell me it's a good morning to fly.
So, yes, I can see the beauty and appreciate it. But, I have to work harder to see 'peaceful' and 'relaxing.' It can be very difficult to get past the obligations that come with the farm
Once again, this is about perspective. You can't necessarily know what I am seeing and how it makes me feel or what it makes me think unless you put yourself fully into my shoes. Similarly, I don't know what cares and worries, joys and preferences, expectations and fears come along for the ride to color your experience of something.
This is part of the reason we are so willing to take sides and engage in conflict. We have to work - sometimes REALLY hard - to understand each other and see what the other person is seeing. Apparently, this is so difficult that we are much more willing to fight in opposition than we are to try to understand.
My resolution is to continue to work on being better at understanding what others are seeing so I might have a chance to recognize what motivates them to do and say what they do. And, I will also listen better to what people might say about me and where I am, so I can appreciate the good things from a different perspective and contemplate whether the critical things are worthy of my attention so I can make changes.
I want you to look at pictures of the farm that shows green plants, some sunshine and a farm building and feel that it is peaceful. I also want to see those same things and feel a little of that as well. But, I also hope you can recognize that my perception might be colored by some things you can't necessarily know about. I don't need you to feel the same way, I just need you to accept that I might not feel the same as you.
By the same token, I need to look at you and consider that what I see in you and where you are from your perspective. If I see something good, I should call it out - so you can see it again for yourself, because you might have forgotten with all of the difficulties that surround you. And, if I see something that needs attention, perhaps I need to think a little harder about why that might be the case instead of leaping to judgement.
It's a tall order. But, the worthwhile resolutions usually are.