Glorious Struggle

  "Once you fully apprehend the vacuity of a life without struggle, you are equipped with the basic means of salvation." -Tennessee Williams

Yesterday I woke up to a smoldering fire. Before heading out to work at 4:30am, R had filled the woodstove with the last of the logs we'd piled indoors.He wanted to be sure the house was warm and cozy when I got up. Two hours later when I rose from bed, I was snug as a bug in a rug. But in order to stay that way I needed to get more wood.

I pulled on my snow boots and headed out to the woodshed in my pajamas with my dog Moe at my heels. He's just a little guy, so in eight inches of snow he's chin-deep. I thought back to winters past, before moving to Vermont, and imagined myself sipping a Starbucks gingerbread latte in a cab en route to FAO Schwartz for some Christmas shopping. David Bowie's baritone echoed between my ears..."ch-ch-ch-changes..." 
To move wood from the pile to the house, we stack it on a plastic sled which we pull through the snow to the back porch. The wood was heavy as I slid it across the frozen ground. I felt sweat form on my brow and immediately cool due to single-digit temperatures. I got stuck on some ice, and in the mighty heave to dislodge the sled, the rope I was pulling it with came loose.  I was left trying to re-knot it with clumsy, mittened fingers. When I had fixed the sled and unloaded the wood in the house, I took a deep breath. I looked up at the wide sky and allowed my lungs to fill with the icy air. It was exhillerating.

I started to think about struggle, and how sometimes it can be good for the soul. Every night when R comes home from the barn, he recounts some sort of struggle as we eat dinner together -- a mother calving twins who needed extra help, a stubborn tractor engine that didn't want to start. As he describes how overcame the challenges of the day, his eyes light up with pride and accomplishment. In these moments I am reminded that you can't experience the feeling of achievement without some struggle.

Farmers are proud of their calloused hands -- they are signs of hard work and protection for the fragile skin beneath. They are beautiful reminders of the value of our struggles.

There were plenty of pricker bushes along the winding path that lead me to the happy place in which I now find myself. As much as I wish some of those tough times never happened, they've made me stronger, and more grateful for the good things that followed. Perspective is another obvious benefit of struggle.

Frankly, most of farming is a struggle -- physically and financially, few jobs are more taxing. And yet I'd say emotionally, the farmers I've met are far more solid than your average Joe.

Glorious struggle. I think there's something to it.

Laura Hansen (December 16, 2010 at 8:16 PM)  

Well said! Thank you for giving us readers a glimpse into your world... being a city dweller myself, I love the escape it provides and your thoughts on struggle really resonate :)

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