Last month I read an article by Charles Wheelan about What They Don’t Tell You at Graduation and it got me thinking. Graduation, from High School or College, is a big mile post on the road of life. It’s an exciting and dynamic time for young people.
Here are my thoughts on some of the wisdom Mr. Wheelan shared.
Life is all about connections! When you go to college you meet so many people; people who become friends, business associates, and spouses. Don’t forget about the bonds you make with Professors, Grad Students and Coaches. In Mr. Wheelan’s opinion there should be a post graduation benchmark for how many people you are still close to after college graduation. I can attest that the closest friends J and I have all went to college with J. Over time we have married and many have had children. We have expanded our “family” and strengthened our bonds.
Life is a journey; not a race. There are hard times ahead. It’s important to remember if what you are doing is worth while there will be periods of uncertainty and failure. People in production agriculture face this everyday. We can not control the weather, the markets or our livestock. Cows abort, calves die, machinery breaks down and it doesn’t rain as often as it needs to. We don’t always know why. What we can do is care for the livestock, land and equipment to the best of our ability and rely on our connections. By “cussing and discussing” we can usually brainstorm a solution to the problem or at least feel secure that we are not the only ones. The road most successful and interesting people travel is hardly ever a straight path!
Gretchen Rubin, author of , says “What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while.” The more I ruminate on this idea, the more I like it. Raising livestock is a 24/7 type of job, we know that. Everyday is different and every season is the same. The winter months are spent caring for livestock and feeding calves. Next, we start calving. While calving season is here we progress into spring work; farming, fencing, branding calves and moving cattle to grass. The summer months find many in the hay field harvesting forages to feed our livestock during the winter months. Fall kicks off with cattle work, weaning calves and catching up on the projects that didn’t get done over the summer. Somewhere between the seasons we try to find the time to “get off the farm.” It’s important to do those once in a while things to keep our sanity!
Mr Wheelan emphasizes “it’s all borrowed time.” In 10, 20, 30 or more years will I look back and be proud of the life I have lived. Am I happy? Within our everyday lives sits the uncertainty of “is this enough”? College students and graduates are on top of the world, they have energy, enthusiasm and ideas! They have not experienced the hard times for themselves. We all aspire to be great. But being great is really out of our control. People who are on solid ground, who have experienced and survived hard times, who do the everyday things that matter are the ones that achieve greatness. They do it with out trying or thinking about it. They do it by taking care of their family, by being stewards of the land and producing quality foods and fibers to the best of their ability. Theodor Roosevelt said “It is hard to fail, but it is worse to never have tried to succeed.”
With the people we meet and the bonds we hold tight we will always have someone to help us weather the storms of life and insecurity. As we go through our everyday chores, the seasons of our work and the hard days may we remember, in the big picture, we are making a difference. We are continuing a tradition; a way of life we were born into and hope to pass to the next generation.