Just over a year ago I was starting out on my Master's thesis and was also in the final phase of my move home to Canada (the phase that involved moving back to Canada). During this process I met some wonderful gardeners and farmers who have inspired me and impacted the choices I am making in terms of the kind of work I do and life I am living. One of the patterns that kept coming up was the timeframe of 15 years.
At our Organic Gardening course at CAT (in Wales) when the instructor was showing us what he's done in his own backyard. Looking at the photos and listening to the story, I thought it would have been a 3-4 year project (especially since they don't have the winters like we do). I was floored when he said it had bee 15 years.
Back in Canada, I met with and learned beside a wonderful farmer, Don Ruzicka, who has become a dear friend and mentor. Talking to Don and walking his land, you would think he's been farming like this since he began. But it has been 'only' 15 years since they took their first Holistic Management course and began to restore the health of the land, their finances and their family through ecological agriculture.
And neither of these gentlemen are done or complete. They are still learning, experimenting, building and breaking down.
So... back to me and to now - June 2011. Being done my thesis for over 8 months, getting married in around 4, working on contracts related to rural community, food and agriculture as well as doing some writing for our local paper, planting gardens and learning about raising chickens, pigs, cows... people around me (family, friends - old and new, neighbours, strangers) still seem to be trying to 'place' me in a job or career that is easy to explain.
"So, what do you do? What are planning to do? Do you want to be a farmer? Will you open a restaurant or local food shop? Are you going to write more? I always knew you writer. Are you still training and facilitating? You're going to be making sausages?"
These questions and statements are all asked with honest inquiry and no judgement. I feel that they want to support and help but perhaps can't grasp the picture I am painting so don't know where to place their own brush on the canvas.
But the fact is - I don't know either. I am painting as I go and living my way into whatever I will be or become. It's worked pretty well thus far (33-15=18... I could have never planned all I have experienced since I was 18, especially not when I was 18).
So I am finding peace in the prospect of a horizon of 15 years. When the plans we have for a house, a farm, a life seem overwhelming... I try to remember to smile at V. and remind us (me) that we have 15 years or more to let it happen. I might like it to be up and together overnight but I would miss a lot if it did.
Thus - when asked about what I do or want to be doing, I am learning to smile and be okay with answering "Can I get back to you on that? Maybe in about 15 years?"