Enjoying a nice relaxing Monday with cup of coffee at Aroma, one of my favorite Omaha chill spots. A woman asked me at the Farmer’s Market yesterday if my mind ever shuts off, and I told her that my best option was to just keep it idling on lower RPM’s than normal. It works better for me to divert my attention than it does to power down. Like when I woke up at 5am this morning, it does me no good to stay in bed, else I end up staring at the ceiling. I might as well put the waking hours to good use.

At this point, my writing doesn’t feel like work. I’m sure if I had to crank out X-amount of words on a daily basis that it might get wearisome, but for now I find it enjoyable to put a few thoughts down in written form to share on my blog.

I’ve started reading, once again, one of my most favorite books. It certainly is the one I have re-read more than any other. It’s the book titled, A Very Small Farm, by William Winchester. I sometimes feel a little embarrassed to admit that a story about a subsistence farmer has come to mean so much to me. Any time we identify the “why” behind any kind of passion, it reveals a vulnerability that requires us to care for it.

I can summarize why I love this little book in one line of the story,

“It was for the most self-indulgent reasons I came to the farm–to be happy.”

Who among us would not admit that it is this very motivation for which we all yearn? Who does not want to be happy? Who does not want to be able to wake up each day with anticipation and not dread? Yet how many of us believe that it is even possible to attain that kind of state of being?

But here is a man, about my age, who finds pleasure in the daily chores of work on a farm. He writes of fascination in the smallest of details, like the flight of a chimney swift or the methodical weaving of a web by a spider in the corner of his house. His descriptions of the clouds in the sky, or the acrid smell of the smoke in the air from a nearby grass fire, make me stop and ask myself if I am capable of doing the same?

Several years ago, knowing how the Oklahoma Rural Mail service works, I decided to write William a note of thanks for his book and to tell him how much it meant to me, and simply addressed the envelope, William Winchester, Rural Delivery, Collinsville, OK and sent it on its way. God bless those postal carriers, because a few weeks later I got a reply, indicating that the post made it to its destination. He thanked me for the kind words, and sent me a packet of Sioux heirloom tomato seeds to try, the ones he described culling out from the more vigorous plants. They were some of the best I’ve ever grown.

While William in his shyness would probably be embarrassed to hear me say this, but I consider him an indirect mentor of sorts. None of us gets to the place we are in life without the inspiration of some other human voice. Often these voices are in the form of a father, mother or coach or teacher, each telling us we can do it and that they believe in us. I don’t care who you are, you have someone like this, it may be a very small voice, but there will be one. Make sure you lean in and listen.

As I read William’s words once again, I find my voice now in his. It is for the same reasons I came to the restaurant that he came to the farm—to be happy. Yes, the work is demanding, but the remuneration is disparately rewarding. To hear laughter in the dining room, to read an online review, or to hear a customer say, “That’s probably the best meal I’ve ever had,” you can’t buy that kind of feeling.

I get no compensation from this recommendation other than the payment of gratitude from people who gained the same inspiration I did from reading it. Somehow this holds more value than a monetary one.

Back off the throttle just a bit, son

One thought on “Back off the throttle just a bit, son

  • October 9, 2009 at 4:42 pm


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