Over the weekend, our family got to hang out with a few long time friends and their families at the lake. We’ve all known each other for a decade or more. We attended and were part of each other’s weddings. We celebrated baby showers together. We enjoyed an annual trip up north in the autumn before our kids were school age. Being together is easy and fun. And of course, we inevitably talked about aging.
My buddy Kerry shared a memory of being a kid at the lake with his family and friends. He remembers looking at the moms, who were wading thigh high and talking, and wondering why don’t they play? Parents are so boring! We joked about our thinning skin, age spots, and just marveled together at how time moves forward so relentlessly.
It was hard to pull away from that lovely place and those loving friends on Sunday, but soon it was time to come home. Time to feed kids, do dishes, and plan for the work week ahead. As I wiped up the messy table and scrubbed dishes, I found myself thinking about how aging has affected how Mike and I deal with stressful situations at the farm.
When we started farming over a decade ago, weather events like we’ve been experiencing would have left both of us in constant states of stress. However, now we stay much much calmer. Part of this change certainly has to do with the growth of our business. Ten years ago, damaging hail, or 70 mph straight-line winds, or 7 inches of rain in 2 days might have threatened the existence of our farm business and caused considerable worry! Now that our farm is bigger and more established, we are able to absorb losses better. So in that way, we are fortunate that we can be less worried than we once were.
I also strongly believe that aging has also helped us stay calmer when things get tough in the fields. Instead of listening to the hail beat down and panicking about what is lost, we are better at taking a deep breath and letting go. Waiting still the storm passes and then calmly assessing damage. Age helps us to better understand what we can control and what we can’t. Each additional year gives us more practice at staying calm when confronted with things that can’t be changed. Each wrinkle represents another time where things have been stressful, but worked out okay in the end. Time and age gives us practice to stay focused on our own points of agency and letting the other stuff go.
Graying hair and the disappearance of our youthful sheens are only losses in vanity. And while I admit, I complained along with my other friends about our post-nursing bodies, our newly discovered age spots, etc. I recognize those are outward concerns. Aging is an opportunity to use our experience to become more like the people we want to be. This mellowing of stress and reaction regarding weather in our fields, this lesson from the farm, is one I am working to apply in other parts of my life.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your veggies!