Tuesday, October 25, 2011

...a REAL Job...

Recently, I was more than a little surprised to hear someone say “if I was you…I’d get a REAL job.” I was at a complete loss for a comeback. I have wondered if other folks, particularly some far-flung family and casual acquaintances, have wondered about what we do …and perhaps why we do it. No one had ever actually said those particular words before, although they had been implied. It was a jarring statement to say the least.

…a REAL job…

Hmmm, is that to say that my current occupation is fake? Or that I really don’t work? Or that somehow other occupations are possibly more important or meaningful than what I do? Is a “real job” one that offers maximum benefits for minimum effort?

…a REAL job…

Guess I should look up the definition. “REAL -adj. - existing or happening as or in fact; actual; true; not merely seeming; authentic; genuine. JOB-n.-anything one has to do; task; chore; duty; a position of employment; work.” Gee, that seems like a pretty close definition.

For the record, here is a bit of background…I chose my current occupation. I DID have other options. No one has forced me into my present lifestyle. …and we didn’t come to farming because we couldn’t do anything else.

If I had followed the path laid out years ago, taken advantage of job opportunities along the way, I am fairly certain I wouldn’t be living in the Valley of the Shenandoah. No, I know if I had taken advantage of a long ago offer and I’d be upper management with a corner office in a high-rise office building in some big city somewhere. I chose not to follow that path…

Yes, I have “education”. Yes, I’ve had “opportunities”. Yes, I have ambition, drive and direction for my life. I just didn’t choose the path that may have been expected of me. And for that, I make absolutely NO apologies. I was looking for the intangibles that a high-powered, high-paying position would not have been able to provide.

I have always wanted to have a family and spend time with them. In addition, I have always had a keen sense of a “draw to the land”. While an exact definition may escape me…I’ve just got farmin’ “in my blood” I reckon. The sense of accomplishment, the pride in a job well-done, and the feeling of self-sufficiency, they all spoke to something deep within me. There is a feeling I get at the end of a day of hard physical farm work that I never got in corporate America…and I value that feeling, I value it deeply!

When we found ourselves in the Valley, we could have done a lot of other things. The Boss could have returned to the power company; I could have returned to the workforce. For a myriad of reasons, we took a chance and a huge leap of faith and started the farm. We CHOSE this life we currently enjoy. It has not been easy, it has not always been lucrative, but it has been rewarding and fulfilling.

It truly aggravates me when folks say, “well, I guess I could always farm” as if it is a last ditch effort. To say ANYONE can farm is truly false. Folks who farm, and farm well, are artisans and true professionals. They are intelligent, caring, hardworking people who often get overlooked and under-appreciated by the rest of society. While this is potentially hurtful, it doesn’t matter to these farmers because they are getting their satisfaction and fulfillment from a job well done.

…a REAL job…

*makes money – yep, we do that! There are those who would be amazed at the amount of money that can be made through a combination of creativity, hard work and determination on a very small plot of land.

*requires effort – oh, boy…

*provides some type of return on time invested – we eat well, sleep well, have learned immensely over the years…to say nothing of the sense of satisfaction we get with a job well done.

*gives back to the community or provides goods and services – we grow food; there are folks who depend on us. The overabundance grants us the opportunity to help the “less fortunate”.

While my current occupation doesn’t pay well and provides no “real” healthcare or retirement…it does do this…

*We set our own hours and are able to enjoy the sunrise or sunset together…stress-free.

*We eat the freshest, most nutritious food available…whenever we choose.

*We work in a beautiful setting, and see the fruits of our labors…literally.

*We get positive feedback…almost instantly.

*We have some awesome daughters! (ain’t nuthin’ like the farmer’s daughters...there's even a song about that one)

*We get to have the best co-worker relationship possible.

*We have a true appreciation of the life and death struggles that make this life possible. It may be that our joys are greater to balance out the fact that our losses are felt more keenly.

*We enjoy good health as a result of hard work and good food. We just don’t count the sore muscles as a bad thing.

*We have opportunity to see miracles every day. Not at day goes by that I don’t get to see and appreciate the handiwork of God. That alone is awesome and worth far more than any paycheck.

So, I may not work for a Fortune 500 company. Maybe that would be a “real job”. However, there is something, if not everything, to be said for job satisfaction. I definitely have that!

This is a hard life: the hours are long, the work strenuous, and the uncertainty at times demands a great deal of faith…but, the rewards are beyond any 401-k or health benefits…far beyond.


IS a REAL job!

…and I defy anyone to prove differently.

1 comment:

  1. You nailed it Barbara! You and the family have accomplished so much. GREAT writing.