But a man’s life comes full circle; you can learn

english bull terrier,pup,puppy

Laddie was a useful dog on the farm for the next few years, and there were moments when he did good things and we understood each other— once we sorted two ewes that we needed for a show off a hundred others we didn’t need in a field and walked them home. But it was a rare moment, and I always knew he wasn’t as good as he should have been. Sometimes he’d run home when I lost my temper and shouted at him. He lost trust in me. I knew whose fault it was. Mine. I knew that I’d let him down. I look back and think he would have made a good dog if I had known a bit more. But a man’s life comes full circle; you can learn, and do better than your past. I am determined not to make the same mistakes again.

~ James Rebanks, The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape.


Notes:

And, sometimes, it comes down to the “Third Rule”

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My job is simple: get around the fields and feed and shepherd the different flocks of ewes— dealing with any issues that arise.

First rule of shepherding: it’s not about you, it’s about the sheep and the land.

Second rule: you can’t win sometimes.

Third rule: shut up, and go and do the work.

~ James Rebanks, The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape.


Notes:

Tradition

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My grandfather is asleep in an old brown armchair that is for his use, and his use only. He has read the local newspaper and fallen asleep in it after his midday meal. He is old and tired because he starts early and works too hard for an old man. But I wish he would wake up. Sometimes when he is not working he tells me stories. He loves to tell stories. True stories. This is how he passes on his values. How he tells me who we are. They have morals, these stories.

We don’t give up, even when things are bad.
We pay our debts.
We work hard.
We act decently.
We help our neighbours if they need it.
We do what we say we will do.
We don’t want much attention.
We look after our own.
We are proud of what we do.
We try to be quietly smart.
We take chances sometimes to get on.
We will fail sometimes.
We will be affected by the wider world …
But we hold on to who we are.

It was clear from his stories that we were part of a tradition, that long pre-dated us, and would long exist after us. The stories left you feeling proud to be part of that tradition, but very aware that as individuals we were bound by duty to carry it on, bound to try and live by those values. His main lesson was above all to get along with people; don’t burn your bridges or they will stay down for a long time. Having the same families live and work alongside each other for many centuries created a unique kind of society with special values.

~ James Rebanks, The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape.


Notes:

Three generations before you are a local

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There is an unwritten code of honour between shepherds here. I remember my grandfather telling me about his friend buying some sheep privately from another farmer for what he thought was a fair price. Weeks later he attended some sheep sales and realized that he had got the sheep very cheap indeed, too cheap, about £ 5 less each than their market value. He felt that this was unfair to the seller because he’d trusted him. He didn’t want to be greedy, or perhaps as important, to be seen to be greedy. So he sent the farmer a cheque for the difference and apologized. But the farmer who’d sold them then politely refused to cash it, on the grounds that the original deal was an honourable one. They’d shaken hands on it. Stalemate.

The only way out was to go back the next year and buy his sheep and pay over the odds to make up for it, so he did. Neither of these men cared remotely about “maximizing profit” in the short-term in the way a modern business person in a city would; they both valued their good names and their reputations for integrity far more highly than making a quick buck. If you said you would do a thing, you’d better do it. My grandfather and father would go out of their way to do good deeds for their neighbours because goodwill counted for a lot. If anyone bought a sheep from us and had the slightest complaint about it, we took it back and repaid them or replaced it with another. And most people did the same.

Fathers’ names are interchangeable with those of the sons, and surnames with the names of the farms. The name of your farm tells other farmers here as much about you as your surname. There might be twenty farmers with the same surname, so it is immediately followed by the name of the farm for clarification. Sometimes the name of the farm kind of replaces the surname in general discourse. I met a man in a pub recently and he knew my grandfather—“ You’ll be a fair man if you are half the man he was,” he said sternly, then bought me a drink, the accrued interest on some unspoken good turn my grandfather had done for him decades earlier. Anyone new to the community or common would be watched carefully until they showed themselves to have integrity and play by the rules. They say you have to be here for three generations before you are a local (people laugh when they say that, but it carries a lot of truth).

~ James Rebanks, The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape.


Notes:

American Value: Herb Dishman. This is our land.


“It’s a tradition that’s been handed down. Rice farming in the community has been a really big deal.  That’s what has driven our community for quite some time. I couldn’t wait to get into the field with my Dad. That was probably one of my favorite pastimes. He was there. He worked a lot. He worked very hard at what he did. He was always there to give me a hand…and give me just enough room to hang myself. When I originally left to go to school, that was my intention, was to go to school.  Fortunately, I was able to take those opportunities, and branch out and see different walks of life. I went into the restaurant business. Did that for a while. Then I went into the music business. I was always searching for something. Not always knowing where I was going or what I was trying to do. Just going and doing and trying to find that niche.  Where do I fit in? It’s a big question. Eventually when I was working on a documentary much as you guys are doing yourself, we went out into the jungle in Northeastern Cambodia. It’s a rice farming community as well. They plant everything by hand. Everybody is there together. Everybody is doing everything together. To help one another. Yeah, they butt heads, they fight just like everybody else. But their measure of worth is completely different.  And I realized that I had been missing the picture for a while. When it hit, I knew what I needed to do. I didn’t need to be anywhere else but here. Kinda have to figure out what you want to do. That was it.

As it grows. As you harvest. And make preparations for the following year, it’s the cycle of everything moving together. This is our land.”

~ Herb Dishman, China, Texas

~ Music: Bon Iver – The Wolves

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And on the 9th day…


My Brother Rich shared this video with me. It’s been viewed more than 2,300,000 times since it was posted. My hunch is all you dog lovers have seen this 2-minute clip at least once.  It was new to me.

Dogs. The deep baritone Paul Harvey-like voice with a rhythmic cadence. And you have another winner.

This clip is a take-off on the highly acclaimed Superbowl Ram Truck commercial on Farmers.  If you missed it, you need to check it out at this link: And the winner is…

 

And the winner is…

The runaway winner among all the Superbowl commercials.  Dodge Ram Truck.  And Paul Harvey.  GOOD DAY!

Zen Man and his Ducks

I’ve been following Manoli Rizo‘s photography blog for some time…admiring her work.  I just loved her most recent post.

This man. His “herd.”  The march in unison.  His peace, pride and contentment.

Manoli, hats off to you.  You’ve done it again.

Take a minute and hit this link and pan through Manoli’s photos of this man and his family.  (And Foreign Language competency anyone?  If someone could translate the intro of the post, I’d be grateful)

Duck 1

Witness a profoundly inextricable connection with all living things…

As we traversed rural India at the speed of a couple of miles per hour, it became clear how much we could learn simply by bearing witness to the villagers’ way of life. Their entire mental model is different—the multiplication of wants is replaced by the basic fulfillment of human needs. When you are no longer preoccupied with asking for more and more stuff, then you just take what is given and give what is taken. Life is simple again. A farmer explained it to us this way: “You cannot make the clouds rain more, you cannot make the sun shine less. They are just nature’s gifts—take it or leave it.”

When the things around you are seen as gifts, they are no longer a means to an end; they are the means and the end. And thus, a cow-herder will tend to his animals with the compassion of a father, a village woman will wait three hours for a delayed bus without a trace of anger, a child will spend countless hours fascinated by stars in the galaxy, and finding his place in the vast cosmos.

So with today’s modernized tools at your ready disposal, don’t let yourself zoom obliviously from point A to point B on the highways of life; try walking the back roads of the world, where you will witness a profoundly inextricable connection with all living things.

Nipun MehtaPATHS ARE MADE FOR WALKING: Four steps to take on the road of life, Parabola, Fall 2012.

Thank you crashinglybeautiful from parabola-magazine.


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