Meaning and Connection: Fall Share #2 – 11/3/21
Meaning and Connection
The other week I sat around a fire with some of my closest friends. One is a teacher. One is a professor. Another a doctor. Another a therapist. I felt awed by their intelligence. Humbled by how articulate they are.
The week following the fire, I found myself swimming through social constructs – comparing my manual labor up against the massive intelligence of my friends. I felt a little down on myself… like the I was the simpleton farmer sitting around the fire.
This time of year I don’t use my mind very much. Planning isn’t super logistically challenging and all that is required of me is to harvest and fill orders. It is the part of the season where I use my intelligence the least. This time of year it’s about motivating the body to get out there and keep harvesting – to hustle against the inevitable killing cold (tonight! 20 degrees!). And well it feels strange to not use my mind very much.
A friend of mine called me out for constantly making reference to how I haven’t been using my intelligence lately. Apparently I say things like, “I didn’t have to think much today, but it was beautiful out!” They remind me that even if my work does not require “intelligence” on the day to day, that doesn’t mean I’m not doing something meaningful.
As the season winds down and each crew member leaves, you can see their struggle, their sadness in going. Our crew members find meaning in the work here. Yes, they are doing manual labor – but that labor is important. They know that what their bodies do matters; they know the work they do with their bodies sustains the bodies of others in healthy ways. They know that the work their bodies do is an offering to the land to treat it better than it’s been treated in a long time.
The other thing our crew members find here is connection. They work hard together and build friendships and create connection alongside one another. The way the crew gets through those hot days, or cold days, or tough days is through conversation with one another. As the season progresses, they begin to hang out with one another outside of work. Their friendships often last long after they are done working here.
Doing work that feels meaningful and creates connection is gift. It is in our human nature to try and create meaning and connection wherever we are, and so much of the connection that happens on the farm is outside of me. And yet, as a farm manager I can work to create the conditions that makes those connections easier to come by. As I mature as a farm manager, I want to focus on creating a space where meaning and connection ground my crew.
So the next time I sit around a fire with my friends, I hope to be awed and inspired by them once again – but perhaps without holding it aside my work and seeing it as somehow less than. We all have our gifts to give, our contributions to the world. Creating meaning and connection is something to be proud of – even if it doesn’t require the kind of intelligence our society considers valuable.