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Holding the Extremes (1 of 3)

As young farmers, we often run up against two myths that people hold about our life. The first is that we work from sun up to sun down at back breaking and monotonous tasks for little pay and with no rest. The second is almost the opposite. In this myth, we live a breathtakingly beautiful and fulfilling life that is full of beauty and goodness and cute laughing children.

The thing is, sometimes it is hard to disagree with these over dramatically polarized characterizations. Typically when I notice someone holds one of these opinions about our life I am quick to offer the opposing possibility. It's not for nothing that my mother claims my middle initial of "C" stands for "Contrary." But really, it doesn't feel quite right just to say that our life is NOT one of those things, or that it is "normal-just-like-yours." Because sometimes we DO work long hours at frustratingly mindless jobs (though this happens less and less as we get better and better at farming). And sometimes we DO catch our breath at the intense beauty that surrounds us. Its just that it isn't ALWAYS either one of those characterizations.

A wise mentor of mine once explained to me the difference between a balance and a tension. He said when we seek to live in balance, we reduce the extremes in our life till we find the center. Like walking on a see-saw, we back away from the ends and find the balance point by sticking to the center. But when we live in a tension we hold on to both/and. We hold to opposite things in a sort of equilibrium. We incorporate opposites into one. Instead of rejecting the distant extremes we cling to two (or more) and let their opposite pulls keep us centered. Like the tightrope walker with a long weighted stick--the longer his stick and the heavier the weights on the far ends, the easier it is for him to remain balanced.

Our life is one of tension. But that doesn't mean it is necessarily out of balance. It is hard, AND beautiful. We don't want to shy away from the difficult days any more then we want to reduce the beauty and health. And in fact, to eliminate the strain would in some cases eliminate the rich reward and even some of the peace. For instance, I don't fear many things I struggled with in our first years. Walking wide eyed into those difficult times has allowed us to pass on through them.

We could theoretically pursue a more "balanced" life by getting an easier job that doesn't leave us with dirt under our fingernails. We would also be backing away from the joys of spending our days in a garden.

But lets not get too theoretical or sappy. Some days we can hardly hang on to this roller coaster. I've cried. But I've also been totally dumbfounded by a piercing blue sky. One time, Daniel and I were so tired on a late summer afternoon that we sat down on the grass to discuss the job we were about to face and then laid back... and then closed our eyes... and without talking, we both fell into one of the best naps I have ever had. Right there in the humming green grass.

But it couldn't have happened without the long sweaty day and the oppressive heat. That's the reality.

Slowly we are learning how to hold on to both the difficulty AND the beauty. What we are working at is not jumping too quickly out of the hard or dark or fearful things. Not jumping straight to the silver lining. Not running away from the edges and back to the safe center. We don't need to wallow in the hard parts or embrace the darkness, but neither do we need to fear them and constantly skip to the happy.

So this tension is something we want to show more clearly to you our readers and followers. Its not all happy around here. We do have hard things. But its not all hard either. It's both. And over this season we want to give you a more realistic and honest and full picture of what this life is like.

Stay tuned...

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