While I usually prefer Eric Carle’s own words, I’d like to thank him this time around for his take on this bit of advice from that wise entity known as “Anonymous”. I made a connection with it and a short, farm-based essay that I wrote back in December about needing both patience and effort in life. I want to sit with the spirit of these two thoughts some more.
I’m a thinker. Writing lets me live in my mind for hours upon hours and that can be great but it can also be a crutch. If I’m lucky, I may end up with an organized bunch of words and sentences at the end of the day. I may have discovered something I didn’t know before in the researching of an idea. And yet, when it’s all said and done, what’s the point? What exactly is my “plowed field”- my final goal?
If a farmer patiently stands there all day, looking at the field and picturing what to do, that ground won’t get plowed and there will be no harvest. The farmer has to get the tools from the barn to the field and then apply him or herself to the task of carefully slicing those even furrows until the job is done.
It’s not that the farmer shouldn’t think. Without thought, the final product would be a haphazard success at the very best or an abject failure at its worst. Thought first, then patient effort. We cannot stop at the imagining. We need to see things to the end.
We all have different ends in mind- different “plowed fields”. The process of me writing a piece is only part of my task. I need to share my work and inspirations. Making positive connections with others is the point where I can say that I’ve actually done my job. It’s taken me my entire adult lifetime to realize this. I now see that I must keep seeking out new ideas, processing them and then blogging and tweeting, publishing a book and reaching out to readers and other writers on a regular basis. Sometimes this fills me with joy. Sometimes it leaves me feeling raw and exposed. Sometimes I fight voices telling me it’s a foolish endeavor and that I should quit. When that happens, I must remember the vision of the finished field I have in my head and keep my hands on the plow and my feet moving forward.
Whether your completed field is becoming a great parent, painter, electrician or pig farmer, we all need to follow the same basic script. Picture it, ponder it and then work it. When we stumble, we have to pick ourselves up and keep going. Yes, perhaps we’ll have to make changes to our plans along the way, but if we persevere, eventually we’ll reach a harvest.
That harvest is the final success. It may not be what we planned when we decided to plow the field and plant the seeds. However, it will be what we can call our own.