Slow Down – Even in the Heat of Battle

“It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.” – Edward Abbey

In the Heat of Battle…

… we often forget that which we are fighting for. As a farmer, I work diligently to improve the land beneath our feet. My battle consists of chemicals the previous owners applied. Cotton was grown here, when chemical fertilizers were still new. Over the years, many a ton has been worked into the soil. Consequently, it is taking more and more natural fertilizer to combat the damage done.

In the process of trying to fight that damage, I spend more time on my knees, with my arms up to my elbows in soil. My hands are blistered with a hoe; I smell all too much like the homemade liquid manure I use. You can almost read the news on my legs where I was kneeling on damp newspaper I use as mulch, and I have almost as much straw in my hair as I do my garden rows.

But When I Stand…

…I can take a breather and look around me at the beauty of the pastures, the trees lining the property and a herd of contented cows. The sweet music of the sparrow, the killdeer and the woodpecker echo across the stillness. Enjoyment of the peace and solitude of the farm is like getting a big hug from Nature.

We Believe…

…in the importance of taking time away from the battle. After a long hot day at work, the Country Boy grabs his peace down at the pond. Some days he keeps a fish or two for dinner, but most days its just catch and release. He looks forward to the early weekend mornings he can head out to the deer stand. It is his way of resetting his mind and heart.

When life gets tough, I have a favorite spot by the creek. It’s a small clearing, and a tree has long since fallen, providing me with a great place to sit. I watch the water dance across pebbles in the shallow spaces and the ripple of moving waters through the deeper areas. The sound is a lullaby, and as the water disappears around a bend, so do my problems. At least for an hour or two.

“A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.”
― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

The Walk Home..

…is a slow one. A good quarter mile from the house, I have the gift of walking slowly. I can observe Nature, listen to her song and get a quick peak of deer watching me from the tree lines. That opportunity is only a second or two long, but I would never see it from the window of a vehicle or a fast moving four-wheeler.

A Hectic, Hurry-Up Life…

…causes us to miss so much. Edward Abbey had the right idea – learn to take it slow. From a car sitting in traffic, all you see are more cars and more harried people sitting behind the wheels. Some are multi-tasking by talking on the phone while driving. Others are waiting to get in line at a drive-thru, because there isn’t enough time to fix dinner at home, or they don’t know how.

While observing folks at restaurants or in stores, they are more interested in a plastic box than they are the people they are with or their surroundings. That box is held to their ears, or attached to it by a wire. Their fingers are busy punching on it, almost without ceasing. Instead of seeing the beauty of the world around them they see plastic. Instead of hearing the song of Nature or the laughter of a child, they hear incessant chatter.

Make a Change…

…for the better in your life. Instead of spending your money on another piece of plastic, buy a bicycle or a good pair of walking shoes. Instead of wasting time in a drive-thru, enjoy your family and a home-cooked meal. Take a detour from the mall and head to a park or the lake. Grab a friend, or go alone – but either way, go. Don’t sit in a loud movie theater, watch NatureVision instead as you take a walk through the woods. And leave that plastic box at home, or at least turned off.

What happens when…

…you slow down? You get to re-introduce yourself to you. A rediscovery of who you are, your dreams and even what battles you are willing to fight can be enlightening and energizing. Other people in your life move from two-dimensional to three. Yes, we get so busy in our lives that our loved ones can become as if they are characters in a book or movie, instead of real people with real thoughts, ideas and dreams.

The Heart begins to fill with passion, instead of frustration. Your body becomes stronger and healthier. The constant static of the mind begins to silence, and the very breath you take becomes cleaner and slower. Those lost emotions like joy, peace, and contentment work their way out from underneath the rubble of frustration, anxiousness and worry.

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you where ever you go. – Joshua 1:9

Take Courage…

I honestly believe that we have forgotten how to slow down. We are so geared towards moving, shaking, and hurry that we no longer know how to just BE. Change doesn’t happen overnight. You need to make a conscious effort to slow down. Schedules need to be reworked. Priorities re-ordered. Take time to sit in a rocker on the porch or a favorite chair and peruse cookbooks to make a menu. While there, just imagine the aroma of a pot of soup on the stove, or a loaf of baking in the oven.

Don’t worry what others will think. Instead, be a leader, and gently and slowly let them see the positive changes in you. Before long, you may find yourself truly enjoying your family and friends during dinner and game night, or bonding more tightly while engaging in one-on-one conversation. The things you can learn by listening – not only to the words, but also to the silence. By slowing down, you become more in tune with the subtle nuances of verbal and body languages.

Take a page out of Edward Abbey’s books. Slow down. Walk or ride. “…mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.”

At the end of the day, you will find that the better part of you, the kinder, more thoughtful, more rested, part of you will surface like a soft gentle breeze. You will find yourself better armed for the battles in life, and happier than you have ever believed you could be.

It really is a Simple Life. Embrace that simplicity and enjoy…

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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