The Road Runner at Grace Farms is eye-balling me.
He was there before me, and he is intent on not letting me forget it.
The bird presents himself to me every time I arrive. The colors of his plumage are much more subtle than I realized.
I know Road Runners differently because I focused on this Road Runner.
“Don’t talk to Pete. He is a dipshit.”
In another era of my professional life, I read this love-note on an e-mail from a disgruntled client to her boss. I am unsure whether I was copied intentionally ? but I am sure it gave her a certain amount of pleasure that I got to read what she thought of me.
At that time of my life, I was part of an international sales-force of a company that did business on 5 continents.
And a month before I am called a dipshit ?
I was celebrated
as the highest performing sales-person
Among hundreds of sales people around the globe.
In fact, they give me a bunch of money and big, fat prize
for being so great.
The Divine likes to remind me:
The distance between hero and dipshit is the length of time it takes to read a two-sentence e-mail.
Somewhere in the mid- 1960’s he is in the 10th grade and doing a handstand on the top rails of the Empire State Buildings observation deck.
Some volunteer parent looking after the high school kids take one look and faint dead-away.
An unfortunate gust of wind sends him tumbling like a fall leaf.
But it didn’t and the story lives on in family infamy.
“Ya ought to be ashamed of yourself!”
This is my first voicemail of the day.
When I worked for a giant company and held a position of authority and influence
I liked the money –
Everyone likes the money.
But next on the list was this:
Everyone returned my calls.
It goes without saying:
I do not know what I am doing.
I killed all the tilapia in my aquaponics farm because I misunderstood how to keep them healthy.
30 chickens on the farm died because I built a substandard chicken coop that some average coyote easily penetrated.
I am not a famer
Yet I farm.
There are people in my life that want me to focus. To do one thing and do that thing with excellence.
But I have lived with the keen awareness of my death since I was 12.
I don’t fear it.
When I go, I want to be satisfied with my courage to have done my best and to have seen what was possible with my life.
There are seasons of plenty in our lives. Seasons where your actions align with just the right needs of the moment and your imagination blooms in the world vibrantly.
I am not in one of these seasons.
I am in no danger of becoming an expert.
She is calling me because she wants me to be safe.
I want to pick-up to tell her I am safe.
However, I am standing on a ladder
In a bee suit ?
If I knocked on your door wearing this bee suit
You would think I was there to clean the Ebola virus out of your carpets.
I am wearing leather gloves ? giant ones.
They look like I should be handling glowing red bars to be smashed on some anvil
And my hands are roughly the size of the average 3 grade girl
Which makes my ability to do anything but the most blunt work
I have been getting reliable texts from the man who is my mentor when it comes to beekeeping.
But the phone is ringing persistently in the pocket of my bee suit from my future wife.
Competing with the phone is the sound of the biggest bee swarm I had ever had my face nose deep in.
I can say this with confidence
Because it was the first bee swarm I ever tried to rescue
Somewhere in the development of the human species we learned to use tools. There is a great scene in the move 2001: A Space Odyssey that imagines the moment when our primordial ancestors learned to use a hammer.
In my development as a farmer on Grace Farms, I have somehow regressed to just before the point in time when human beings learned to use tools.
In trying to authentically develop a place where food can be grown,
my enthusiasm for avoiding contamination of any kind
created a sort of blindness to my own stupidity in how I am accomplishing simple tasks.
A good friend of mine ? who works with me on the farm ? illustrated this by showing how a project that had taken me 9 hours could be completed in 30 minutes.
What felt virtuous just minutes before his tutorial on using tools ? immediately became evidence of my stubborn habit of taking the long, hard way to learning my lessons.
In our desert, water occasionally falls from the sky sufficiently to create Flash Floods and awaken the seeds of future tumbleweeds and voracious milk weeds.
Let me do my best to avoid the farming ? garden cliché of discussing the spiritual virtues acquired by weeding their growing soil.
Don’t trust anyone who writes about how pulling weeds freed their minds.
I am walking along the fence line of my tiny farm
looking like the world’s ugliest cheerleader
holding two massive pom-poms of freshly pulled weeds
My mom says I am smart, but that I am not clever.
I am sure I am not smart enough to know what she means ? but I have thought about her description often over the years.
My thinking is not elegant. I don’t come to conclusions with deft
? Sherlock Holms-ian clarity.
I have go over and under and around and through ideas
And then I need to feel the idea in practice.
I am a reader ? I enjoy learning ? but I only learn lessons after feeling the consequences of screwing something up or the pleasure of bringing something beautiful into the world.