Coming Home

October 31, 2011 § 6 Comments

Three days away, and I dropped back into my life, grateful for all its odd little concerns and pleasures.

I was hardly off the plane before being presented with the first: Would our 22-year old, $1200 Chevy, which has of late exhibited a stubborn recalcitrance when the key is turned, even start? Or would I be stranded at the Burlington airport, a cruelty made all the more acute by the fact that I’d just spent a full 12-hours in either car, airport, or airplane, half-stranded by the big October snowstorm?

The truck was in a jolly mood, firing with nary a hitch to fill the parking garage with its 80’s-era rumble, and I realized the unique joy of the freedom afforded by an unexpectedly cooperative vehicle. Suddenly heady with the realization that I would in fact see my family in little more than an hour, I basked in a surge of delight, pondering the truth that the pleasure of a running rig is best realized with the threat of it not running is most acute. Not exactly a revelation, I know, and one that can be extended to pretty much every facet of life. Health is not appreciated until we are unhealthy, money until we are poor, friends until we are friendless.

Still, as I motored down Interstate 89, pushing the ol’ beast to its top speed of 68 mph, I could not help but consider how many of my most-savored moments are preceded by hardships, albeit mostly small (had I been stranded by my two tons of cold steel and rubber, how tragic would it really have been? The answer, of course, is not very). The food we grow, and effort put forth. The firewood we cut, split, and stack each year. The sap hauled bucket-by-bucket, to be boiled for hours down to the sweet distillation of our efforts.

And then the further irony (if that’s the right word), which is the creeping recognition that because it is the so-called hardships making the ┬ápleasures that much more acute, the hardships aren’t actually hardships at all. They are part and parcel of the reward, because without them, there is no reward.

This is difficult to explain and I fear I am not doing it well. So I’ll conclude with this: I’m grateful my truck started. But in no small way, I’m equally grateful that it might not have.

 

 

 

 

§ 6 Responses to Coming Home

  • Victoria says:

    Oh I love this so much. I was just thinking along these lines, as we pack our house into (two) storage units, the 4th move in 6 years.

    Despite the hard work of packing and moving, I know it is bringing us one step closer to our own farm dreams.

    And that is worth all the effort.

  • sylvia says:

    When I taught school, I did an experiment with my 4th graders one spring. We put tomato seeds in a window sill inside in a pot and tomato seeds on the outside of the window. True, the one inside came up the fastest. It probably got more water. That was a cold spring here in Georgia and by the time school was over the first of June, the inside tomato was tall and wavy while the outside one was pretty scrawny.
    Later that summer, I got a postcard from the child who took them both home. When he planted the two tomatoes, the inside one lasted maybe a week before it wilted away. The scrawny outside one was covered over with tomatoes that were, according to my former student “huger than any other we got in the garden”.
    Sometimes it is hard to remember that when you are in the cold spring of trial and torment. But when you finally get to the garden, you realize that it is the hardships and struggles that make you strong and give you empathy so that you can give back.
    Glad you made it home to your garden.

  • Vonnie says:

    Ben, this is a great post. I think I really needed this one as the house we are trying to buy is moving along so slowly it’s hard to remember that it will have it’s rewards at the end of that journey. And in turn, the journey will be just beginning because this little farm will need so much more work once we get it to the point where we can actually finance it. I love Sylvia’s comment as well, what a great metaphor that little tomato plant is. ~Vonnie

  • Ben Hewitt says:

    Thanks for the comments. I wasn’t sure this made any sense to anyone but myself. Glad to hear at least a few people understood what I was trying to say.

  • Jean says:

    Quite profound. But then I feel that way about most of your writing. I laugh, I cry, I think and when I’m done I know I’ve learned something from you and at my age, that’s quite a trick. Thank you.

  • […] at times when I was getting too serious and really needed to lighten up. . -Reading the post: Coming Home by Ben Hewitt. Gratitude wonderfully expressed in such a beautiful way. I really resonated with […]

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