Surviving

During the longest days of the year, he is up with the sun. After breakfast—the same breakfast eaten every day, all year long—he is out the door. The old truck growls to a start, and he begins his route to the fields around town where his heart and soul lay beneath the dirt, fertilized, ready for water and warmth. Ready for growth.

And with that growth comes the potential for conversation. The very thing, he says, that keeps him going every spring, through summer and into fall.

Discourse starts the same way, and is met with his resounding answer. The answer to any question that sounds something like, ‘How are you?’ and ‘What are you up to?’ is:

“Surviving.”

As if surviving is all he is doing. No, surviving looks like an old man hobbling around his house, listless and without a thing to do.

This man does his share of shuffling about, but he is not listless. He has much to do, and enough oomph to do it, much to the amazement of others.

He is doing so much more than surviving.

He is truly living. Always has. I believe deep down he is so connected to his work that to stop can only mean to die. Despite brief moments of wonder—why did he outlive his wife and two of his children? Why is he not suffering from similar illnesses of friends many years his junior?—he is not ready to pack it in.

There is honor and passion and commitment to life in everything that he does. Even more importantly, there is rest.

After lunch—the same lunch eaten every day, all year long—he is ready to doze in his chair. A moment to recharge, sometimes a little longer than he would like, at which time he bounds out of his seat with such fervor for the work that must be done, and will be done, no matter how long it takes.

I say, ‘there are too many people out there who work like you do and take no rest at all. Those people burn out, those people get sick.’ Not him.

To that he says, “we’ll survive in spite of ourselves,” but I say we survive because of ourselves. Because of the formula that he has found: work + dedication + rest + nourishment + family + love = a life that is about so much more than just existing.

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