Anupama writes a letter to her 18-years old daughter. Read what she has to say.
When I knew nothing much about it, what was it that drove me to become a farmer? Why did I quit a high-flying, safe city job to take up farming?
It is definitely not easy to answer that question because it was a tiny seed of a dream that was there for quite some time, buried underground without anyone’s knowledge, silently waiting for the right conditions to grow. Because otherwise what’s the rationale on why we felt the way we did when we looked at the small coconut farm? And why in heaven’s name would we buy it when both of us had highly demanding jobs in the city, and not to mention responsibilities as parents, and our children’s education in the city?
What in the world were we thinking?
I don’t have an answer to that except that it felt like this is what we were looking for; that this is what we wanted to do eventually.
We didn’t have a clue as to what we would do next or how we would go about it. Absolutely no idea! But we knew we wanted this; we so wanted this to be a part of our future! I could foresee the changes we would make on our farm but no idea whatsoever how we were ever going to connect the dots to make things happen. But that wouldn’t stop us, no way. I was determined to see my dreams come true without knowing how I was going to do it.
It was like jumping into deep water first and then learning to swim!
I have never started out saying I was going to become a farmer…oh no, never had such outrageously clear thought ever. It was rather a quiet realization of sorts, which unfolded very slowly over time making me realize that this is what I wanted to do. It kind of grew on me, this farming bug.
It definitely started out with my romanticising a vision of a perfect country life with a beautiful vegetable garden and fruit trees swaying to the wind, kids lazing out in the hammock reading books and me and my husband harvesting some beautiful produce for dinner. Sounds picture perfect! Of course, that’s not all that it takes to make that vision a reality but dreaming is definitely an essential part of it.
So from dreaming to making it a reality was like literally tumbling down the path encountering learning of various sort and finding joy with each step. With every stumble we found something new to learn, avenues for learning opened up and we lapped it up with all our heart and soul. Working 6 days a week and still raring to visit the farm that was one hour away or attend a session on gardening was not easy but we were excited and that was enough to get us going.
We learned, and learned from any and every source; paid workshops, free events, reading books, videos: google anything and everything we could get our hands on. We found some great mentors along the way who were instrumental in providing the right resources we were looking for; we also connected with many like-minded people and made new friends. It was a joyous time spent learning with people who had the same ideologies like us.
And as we moved ahead in this journey, I discovered some wonderful things along the way. Every new encounter taught us something new; I discovered that some of our ancient ways were much healthier ways of living and I also helped bust some traditional myths; becoming an organic farmer does that to you. You change forever. The way you look at the world changes. I questioned a lot of things, sought answers; one thing led to another, and a sort of awakening of senses happened. I would learn how to do something and that would lead me to something else, and so slowly yet steadily all the things I always wanted to do started presenting itself in full view. I also slowly went from being an apprehensive on-looker to a let-me-be-the-one-to-try-it doer.
I realised I was taking risks; yes, big and small risks. I, who always lived a planned risk-free organised life, was now taking risks. What was I risking? Failure. Yes that’s the biggest risk we are all afraid of.
Because who in the right mind would quit a job when they are on the verge of a prestigious promotion with a high profile post?
Who would risk quitting a job that they are good at, a steady income, and a predictable routine for something as unpredictable as well…farming; which by the way I had no idea if I was even capable of doing!
I don’t know what was happening but I guess that’s what happens when god puts a strong desire in you and then steps back to watch the drama unfold!
Slowly with other things there were some transformational changes that started making their presence felt. With each passing day I had a strong urge to break free of the consumerist shackles binding us in its vicious cycle. With every new learning I was moving towards slowly blending my carefully built modern lifestyle with more of the sensible tried and tested ways of life; with just a dash of modern comforts of course, which I can’t live without.
When it came to farming, I wanted to do everything with an expert along my side, as we were novices in this field. But I guess that wasn’t part of the grand plan. We would wait and wait for the perfect timing to have an expert by our side to guide us step by step and somehow it would never materialise. This happened quite a few times before we decided to take things in our own hands and to learn by doing, learn by making mistakes; if that’s what it takes.
And what do you know, seems like it was a pretty good idea and a sensible decision too. This ended up helping us in many ways;
So my advice, just do it! Don’t wait for the ideal situation, time or person.
By now the only thing that I certainly knew was this strong desire that had somehow found its way to my heart. I knew it was something I couldn’t ignore anymore. I knew it felt this way for a reason, I don’t know what that was yet, but I knew this is real and this is happening. I have read about passion and calling and things like that which never really made sense to me until then.
And thus the great decision to quit my job was taken; a job I loved, no less. Because I knew deep down that keeping the job won’t give me the time I needed to pursue my dream. So the decision, however heart-breaking, was taken. This is in no way implying that anyone should quit their job to realise their dreams! This is a personal decision requiring some deep thinking and weighing of pros and cons. For me, I had the security of my husband’s fulltime job to rely on.
Somehow I knew it was time for this because two people working full time without even a weekend to fully spare will not help make this dream a reality. And for me, this seemed like a logical decision: to step down from the work force scenario and step up towards realising my dreams, our dreams, because by now my husband had been fully engulfed in this love for farming too.
With that tough decision taken, it helped us focus on other important matters and make progress with our farming ideas. The decision to build a farmhouse was taken shortly, as it didn’t quite make sense working and growing plants with no place to rest or enjoy the farm. As quickly as that decision was taken, it took roots and the work on the farmhouse started with full swing.
Financial crunches were there which we couldn’t ignore, and so we made a plan to stick to the bare minimum work on the house to cut expenses. Besides that farming involved lots of hard work, lots of physical labour – dirtying our hands, sweating and working under the scorching sun. Yeah, not the kind of work we were used to; but it gave us the joy nothing else did.
This new journey also taught me some valuable life lessons along the way; to not be afraid to tread the unknown path…the path less travelled; not be afraid to break free of the cookie-cutter mould of life society teaches us to pursue; to not live life bound to a stereotype of what is expected of you.
We are a work in progress, we are bound to change and change is good.
During one of the self-doubting times I came across a quote: “If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with a life you don’t want.” – Kevin Ngo
This right here made me sit up and make that decision. I didn’t want to regret later saying “what if I had”…and instead wanted to try and make it work. If I failed, I could always look at myself proudly without guilt and say “at least I tried”.
Don’t resist what you feel deeply! Take the plunge and see how your life could change! The possibilities are endless…You will never know if you never try. Take safer, smaller risks to see how it goes before you take some major steps.
I guess everyone reaches a point when you realise that you just have one life! Do what you love and do what truly makes you happy. Do something you would feel proud of, do something that takes care of others. And in all this, we make the world a better place.
Published here earlier.
Image source: pixabay
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A mother of two amazing kids and a teacher by profession, I have varied interests.
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