Growing up in the suburbs meant that weekend journeys to my maternal grandparent’s farm were out of the ordinary adventures. We would climb into the car, each of my four-person nuclear family in their respective seat and make the two-hour trek. As soon as we saw the seasonally suited penguin statue at a specific house, my sister and I knew we were in the final leg of the trek. Soon, fields surrounded us, and the scent of fresh manure periodically engulfed the car. I did not even mind. It meant we were in the country.
Lessons abounded growing up, and the time at Grandma and Grandpa’s house was not exempt from learning and now life-long memories. I can still hear Grandma’s shrill call to the cats which signaled the stampede of outdoor cats for mealtime, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty! Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kit-ee” with the final syllable pronounced with an upward inflection. I can still smell her homemade bread that always used a bit of lard that perpetually sat on the kitchen counter. And mealtime was flanked with before and after prayers. Grandpa would occasionally offer some special one-on-one time and drive us around for the ride of our lives on the riding lawn mower. He was the one who taught me corn should be “knee high by the Fourth of July”. His work ethic! He was not one to brag, yet his grade school education, hard work, and perseverance truly helped him excel at life and provide for his Catholic family of ten children.
Decades later, I have a broader lens of the lessons I gleaned from my lineage. You see, grandpa was a farmer. He grew, harvested, and sold sweet corn. Every year, he would plant the seeds in the field. He also did the work of tending to the corn throughout the growing season, so that he could ultimately harvest and reap the reward of his work. Yet if my grandpa had not planted the right and best seed, he would not have had a crop worthy of his needs and aspirations. If he had planted a different seed, he would have grown popcorn – which would not have been what he or his customers needed. He would have grown something, but it would not have been what he wanted.
My grandpa’s business was all about finding and planting the right and best seed to accomplish what he desired. It was not my grandpa’s business to stand over each seed and whisper, “grow, grow, grow”. It was his business to know what he desired and to do the work of planting that seed.
The lesson of this seemingly obvious story only recently came into clear view for me. Could it be more basic? The right and best seed must be planted for a farmer to create his ideal life. Yet, the deeper message pertains to all of us – whether we are country folk or city dwellers. Our work – every person’s work – is to plant the right and best seed. To do so, we must know what it is we desire. The right and best seed is the life you would love to live! Sure, there are everyday realities such as sleep, nutrition, and adulting. The question, however, is – are you paying ANY attention to the life you would love to live? Or are you trying so hard to do the work of making the seeds grow – (How will I sustain myself in retirement? How will I get the kids to practice and make sure dad is not alone? What diet or exercise regimen do I need to adopt to finally lose the weight I have tried to shed the past decade? Will this project finally secure my promotion? Etc., etc.) – that year after year the crop you harvest is not at all what you want? Do you have any picture of how you want to feel, who you want surrounding you, how strong and healthy you want to be, what memories you want to create? If your answer is no, I suspect you are spending far too much time doing work that is not your business to be doing. You are planting seeds, but you are not getting what you really want.
Our culture teaches us to manage as many details as possible. We have been brain washed to believe that if we are organized and responsible, we are at our best. While these attributes are often helpful when raising a family, caring for an aging loved one, and juggling everyday life, we also must dance with the reality that we are not in control of every little thing. We must come to terms with the fact that our level of organization and responsibility are subjective and more importantly, they are external labels placed on our accomplishments and tasks. Wouldn’t it be more meaningful to consider what you need to feel fulfilled, peaceful, joyful, and every good feeling you desire? Instead of continually investing your energy in the external situation and expectations, try shifting a part of that energy internally to assess what it is that makes you tick. Those are the right and best seeds of your life. Those are the seeds begging to be recognized and planted!
Are you growing popcorn when what you really want is sweet corn? Are you continually the manager of your circumstances when really you could be the creator of your life? Do not worry! Now that your wheels are turning, you can begin pursuing the right and best seeds to plant in your beautiful life. Every day is a new day for planting. No matter your age or situation, you can and should be planting the right and best seeds to live the life you love living. Spring is a season of planting and growth – now is the time to plant the right and best seeds in the areas of your life where you crave growth.
Note from the author: Another important lesson Grandpa taught me was to always look for pennies (or nickels, dimes, and quarters if you were lucky!) when walking and to save my pennies – the ones I earned as well as the ones I found. Such a wise man – on so many levels!
If you’d like support in identifying your right and best seeds for planting, please contact Krista Powers at firstname.lastname@example.org.