Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
I have tried prudent planning long enough.
From now on, I’ll be mad.”
(Rumi supports my decisions.)
I am officially leaving in nine days to go work on a small farm in the Finger Lakes, where I’ll be until October, growing vegetables and living in a renovated barn with other volunteers. My job agreed to give me a 5½-month leave of absence to do this. I don’t know anyone out there and the only time I’ve even been in the area was when I drove out to visit the farm a couple of months ago. So it’s kind of random, but not really. I’ve been babbling about wanting to farm at least since 2008, and I’ve been looking into opportunities like this for a while and getting jealous whenever I heard about other people doing this type of thing. I guess the timing was just right. I’ve been with the same job and apartment for almost three years, which is a long time for me, so I don’t think I’ll have too much angst over not being there for a few months. (I’ve done the garden walks, the art festivals, the free concerts, the house tours, the food festivals, etc. Everything gets repetitive once you’ve done it a few times.) And I guess being generally unhappy with my life last year gave me the impetus to start the process that has led me to this decision. Yeah, I will miss things (my boyfriend in particular), but I need to get out of this RUT somehow, and I think whatever I gain from this experience will far outweigh whatever I’m doing without temporarily.
I’ve been surprised at how surprised other people have been when I’ve told them. “You’re doing WHAT? Why?? …Are you providing legal services to farmers?” (Nope, just being a farmer.) It seems that to some, this is an extreme move, abandoning my apartment and my job and the rest of my life (even temporarily) to go farm. I can see why something like this would be strange for someone with real responsibilities outside of making rent. I come from a different context, though. For instance, one of my JVC roommates wasn’t sure what to do after our year ended, so she up and moved to AFRICA. (And she’s still there, kicking ass at life as far as I can tell.) It isn’t unusual for the people I know to be impulsive about major life changes. I intentionally try not to get too tied down so that I have the option to go chase dreams on a whim. And what good are options if you never do anything with them? I don’t have an ultimate “plan” for myself, my job is not my One True Passion and Chosen Career, and I don’t place as high a value on stability as my parents’ generation seems to. I would rather have adventures and uncertainty than stability and the stagnation that too often accompanies it. I don’t WANT a husband and a house and kids and a career, at least not right now. What I want is to suck the marrow out of life while I still can.
Reasons I’ve given people for doing this are:
It sounds like a wonderful opportunity that I need to seize while I’m young.
I’ve been getting more involved in urban farming and this is a good chance to go learn from the professionals.
I’m tired of spending most of my daylight hours in a windowless, air-conditioned office every summer.
I’m having an existential crisis.
Those are all true, and I have others besides…
I think it’s time to start doing those things I’ve “always wanted to do.” In addition to volunteering at a farm, these include swing dancing, getting a dog, learning to play the harmonica/accordion/mandolin/drums (and like ten other instruments), figuring out how to write songs, traveling to a lot of places, and launching a guerrilla street art campaign.
I’m trying to figure out what I want in life. The major questions for me are how to support myself financially, what relationships to enter into/whether to get married, and where to live. I haven’t made much progress on the first two but if I could at least start to figure out whether I’d rather be in the country or the city, that would be a start. I have more experience living in the city, so it’s time to give the other option a try.
I’ve filled up most of my personal time with activities at this point and it will be nice to have a break from all of those so I can focus more on guitar and reading and crafting and letter-writing and the kinds of things that are best done when I’m not feeling pressed to accomplish other things.
I’d like some time and space to reflect on my life and try to figure out what I’m doing in general. I think that will go better if I can step back and get some perspective.
I’ve hit a point where I can theoretically keep doing exactly what I’m doing indefinitely, but I don’t think that means that’s what I should do. To some extent I think there can be value in shaking things up just to shake things up.
I really really really really really really really really really want to spend more time outside.
I am not defined by what job I have. You thought I was a paralegal, but LOOK NOW I’M A FARMER. Oh, snap.