I want to tell you a story. It’s a story about perseverance.
Tonight, my wife, mother-in-law, and I went to the Great Darke County Fair. If you live anywhere remotely close, I recommend you go. It’s one of the only real, old time county fairs left this side of the Mississippi, and it’s a blast.
At any rate, we got our food tonight at the Darke County Beef and Pork Producers, something that has become a tradition for us, and sat and ate while we watched the 9-11 year olds show their steers. There were five entrants in that category this year, including one boy who was probably 10 with a monster Holstein steer.
The boy was trying his best, but the steer was having none of it. He pushed the boy with his head. He reared back on his lead. He refused to turn. He started to kick a little.
But that boy stuck with it. At one point he wiped away tears. He got a little mad and yanked on that lead. He pushed the steer back. And he made it through the whole showing. He even walked the steer out to his dad, and walked out of the barn standing tall.
Sure, he probably found somewhere to cry. After all he’s ten and what just happened was terrible for a ten-year-old. But the fact is that he stuck with it. The judge said he finished fifth of five, but from my view he finished first because he didn’t give up even when he had every reason to.
Life can be a recalcitrant steer and more sometimes. It’s easy to give up and give in sometimes. It’s easy to throw up our hands and shout at heaven, “Why bother?”
But the fact is that the measure of who we are is what we actually do at those moments. Do we stand firm? Do we keep trying? Do we see things through?
Sometimes it takes a 10-year-old boy and a monster steer to remind us of the right answer. Be strong and persevere, my friends.
It has been an interesting experience for me over the past couple of years as I have come to realize that the place and undertakings I have arrived at seem to have been somehow intended for me all along. This may seem like a grandiose thing to say, but I can assure you that my two-year-so-far-adventure into things as diverse as farming and coffee roasting fulfill me more than my entire twenty year career as an IT professional.
It also turns out that the things I am undertaking now are among the hardest, most frustrating, and most demanding things I have ever done. Yet, they are worth it because they make me grow, and I have come to realize that if one is not growing, one is dying.
The world sells us a consistent lie: that the object of life’s effort is to accumulate enough so that we can rest on the laurels of what we have already done… and wait to die. What I have discovered over the past two years is how deep and all pervasive this lie turns out to be and how destructive it is to the human soul.
What I have come to realize is how important the Biblical formula of suffering producing character producing hope is to crafting us all as individuals. Without suffering, there is no character, and without character, there is no realization of hope. Yes, life can be damned frustrating and even deeply tragic at times, but every one of those frustrations and tragedies serve to make us into something more than what we were before they happened.
The secret then, I think, is to keep our heads up and to be constantly looking for our way through the things that tend to want to ensnare us at the moment. It will not usually be easy, and sometimes it may be downright crushing, but if we persevere, it will always be worth it.
One of the problems most writers constantly face is how to balance their desire to write with the rest of their lives. Very few of us have the luxury of being able to only write, and quite a few of us have a lot of other things going on that writing. So how do we make it all work.
I’m not going to kid you: you’re going to have to make compromises. Writing is going to have to fit in with everything else, and sometimes making writing fit is like trying to cram one more person into an already stuffed phone booth.
What you have to do is decide that writing is important enough that it has to fit. You may find that you have to write late at night or early in the morning. You might have to write snippets on your lunch break. I’ve even heard of people writing while they’re in the bathroom. Sometimes, it just takes whatever it’s going to take.
It’s probably also going to be hard. You may find yourself even having to defend your writing against your spouse or relatives. That’s just how it goes. Life isn’t perfect, but if you want to write, you’re the one who is going to have to make it happen.
If I’m making it happen, you can too. Just do it.
23,411 words as of day 9.