There have been more than a few times in the last few months when I’ve been reflecting at the end of the day and thought, “Well, 20 years ago I never thought I’d be doing that.”
The perennial joke about me in my family is that Alexis thinks “change is bad” and I often think that if I knew when I was in high school what I would be doing now here in my 30s I’d have laughed, not believed it, and then cried at what cruel Fate was going to do to me. And while I am proud of where I am today, I still feel a little overwhelmed and anxious getting out of bed some days at the things I’m going to have to do in the next 24 hours – and I’m not always confident that I can do them.
The list of things a person needs to know how and be able to do here on the ranch in the course of a day is still baffling to me – and most of these things include a lot more math and physics than I’d ever thought a person would need to know when I was in high school. A lot of things rely on practice and practical experience, too – they just don’t teach you these things from a book in school: driving a tractor; managing a rope with a quarter-ton pig on the end of it (who knew that snub was a verb?!?); general pig doctoring, and shot-giving; understanding and managing the electrical setup for the hotwire paddock system, plumbing and water management, and the basics of internal combustion engines and jumper cables; backing the truck up to a trailer; hooking the truck up to that trailer; pulling said trailer with the truck in the forward direction; and backing up that same darn trailer in the direction you actually want it to go.
I told my 2 year-old niece, who was visiting us on pig castrating day last week, “It’s good to do things like this when you’re little, child, so that you’re not bloody terrified of them as an adult.”
Take tractor driving, for instance: God bless the good people at Kubota for building a tractor that even an amateur like me can make go forward and backward with relative ease, but the joystick gestures for the bucket/forklift move in exactly the opposite way that I as an American woman would have designed them. And no, I haven’t even attempted yet the little blue tractor that, in addition to all the mysterious levers, has a clutch (a clutch!).
It’s days like this – when we’re in the corral working the pigs and my husband is hollering at me, “Move! Move your feet!” and I’m like, “Where? How? You want me to do jumping jacks?” – that I’m so grateful for what is to me the most important thing I learned during my yoga teacher training. (I suppose it’s not his fault that he’s been working animals since he was a kid.) It’s a part of what YogaFit calls the Essence of Yoga and it’s this: letting go of expectations, competition, and judgment. Certainly applicable during a yoga practice, yes, but even more applicable in real life. For me and for all of us. Recalling and repeating to myself this little mantra, “let go of expectations, competition, and judgment”, helps me keep things in perspective and be more patient with myself as I’m learning and experiencing new things. The fact that I don’t have a lot of basic farm skills doesn’t make me a bad person and it doesn’t mean that I can’t learn. And I am learning, I am growing.
The other night my husband and I were getting some fish ready to roast in the oven for supper. He always rinses and holds the fish for me while I sprinkle the salt and herbs on them because I’m pretty squeamish about touching whole fish. I told him that some day I’ll be brave enough to handle the fish he catches for us. When he asked why, I told him because I want to be a big person, that grownups aren’t afraid of whole fish. He laughed and said that he was pretty sure that there are a lot of big people in the world who are afraid of whole fish and they do fine.
Change is hard for me. Different is hard for me. Change and different don’t come overnight. But I’m also finding out that I’m capable of doing many things. Maybe I’ll deal with whole head-on fish someday. Or maybe I’ll let my husband continue to handle the fish – I don’t have anything to prove.
He’s the one who caught ‘em, after all.