By Cam Mather
Once again I’d like to thank everyone who reads and comments on the blog. Yesterday I had one of those personal epiphanies thanks to our reader Amy. She was commenting on the video blog that we posted about how our chickens had faired this winter. She wrote:
“What a great video! I’m sitting in my cubicle, working and saving for our move to the country, and this was totally inspiring.”
Reading that comment was like being slapped in the head. A good, wake-up sort of slap in the head. First off, it was nice to get positive feedback about a video. They are actually a lot of work. After filming something I use Final Cut Pro to edit, which involves watching the video through and setting “In” and “Out” capture points to grab short bits of video. Then I have to sit while it replays it and saves it into a QuickTime file. Then I have to pull them all into a timeline and add titles, music, fades… etc., etc., etc. Then I have to figure out which of 11 million formats I should use to export it to so that it’s optimized for YouTube watching. So I appreciate it when someone leaves a comment and makes it all worth it.
But really, what was even better was the thought that someone had enjoyed it while working in an office. I think it’s human nature to feel that the grass is greener somewhere else. “It would be way better if only I was…” “I’d be happier if…” I suffer from this. I also struggle with going to the dark side. So often when I’m zoning out in the garden or hauling firewood on sleds in the winter, I suddenly realize that I’ve been dwelling on something toxic. That’s when I say to myself, “Really Cam? You’re in the woods, in the middle of paradise, doing exactly what you always wanted to do, but… someone makes more money than you, or slighted you, or has a much nicer vehicle than you, or… or … or … What is your problem? Smarten up!”
I fight this impulse, but it’s always there. In the words of Bruce Springsteen “There’s a Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Heck, even when he was rolling in cash and everything was going his way, Tony Soprano went to the dark side.
I’ve been much better at staying positive ever since Michelle had to deal with breast cancer a year and half ago. That was the ultimate wake up call to reality. I find I am worrying less and less about the little stuff and enjoying everything I do way more. It’s easy to forget what a gift this all is until you get that wake up call.
My recent temporary job helping my neighbor Don in his wood shop (which I called the saw mill to be more dramatic) was a huge dose of reality too. After 25 years of working for myself it was really hard to get out the door by 7:45 am. It sounds crazy since I’m often in my home office earlier than that, or during gardening season I’m in the garden much earlier, but it’s on my terms. To everyone who reads this blog and has a job where you have to get to work at a fixed time, you have my huge respect. You’re amazing. It’s hard! It’s an amazing thing you are doing. Way to go! How do you do it? (Michelle likes to remind me that at one time we both headed out to work at jobs outside of the home and never thought anything of it. I guess the problem is that once you have worked for yourself, it’s hard to go back to that way of life.)
And then Amy wrote the comment about reading the blog from her office while dreaming about a life in the country. A life we have. It’s almost like you need that reminder that some people would love to be doing what you’re doing to make you feel better about it. It’s twisted logic, but it works.
Now don’t get me wrong. It isn’t all wine and roses out here in the country or in being self-employed. Book sales still aren’t where we’d like them to be. I’m still having challenges getting our eBooks ready to be uploaded to resellers. I’m getting a little stressed thinking about everything that needs to be done in preparation for our CSA this summer. And I’m working through the logistics of how to make the chicken coop a little bigger this spring so that we can add a few more chickens to our flock. I really need to build that greenhouse that I’ve been talking about for a few years but can’t seem to wrap my head around. And I’m way behind with next year’s firewood. The pond has about 1/3 of the water that it usually has by this time since there was so little snow this winter. Yup. So many problems. So many things to worry about.
On the plus side, I get to cut firewood from my property this weekend! And the garden will get planted and the chicken coop will get built and more chickens will arrive and the CSA will be successful. And I’ll figure out someway to get enough water to keep the garden green this summer.
Today the sun is charging the batteries and powering the house. And we’ve had enough sun that we have 3 water tanks full of hot water, none of it heated by fossil fuel, all heated by the sun. And we live in a time of fantastic health care and technologies that allow us to keep in touch with the outside world from our place in the woods, and we have vehicles made of steel and rubber than can transport us in minutes, distances that took our ancestors hours or days to cover. I get to buy tropical fruit from Kim and Larry’s grocery store in town and tonight I’ve reserved George Clooney’s movie “The Descendents” at Tim’s Village Video store in town which I’ll watch on my TV that is powered by the sun (stored in my batteries during the day).
And really, what else could I ask for? People appreciate my videos because they show a place and a way of life they aspire to. A place like where I live and how I live right now.
Yes, Cam, you professional whiner, just shut up. Shut up and soak in how good you’ve got it. Cause it’s pretty great. And every day it gets better! Thank you blog readers for reminding me of this.
A Watercolour of Sunflower Farm by local artist Barry Lovegrove