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Balancing the plant, balancing the farmer

Thinking about farming. The balancing act of presence and competence. I heard the other day of a very skilled paddler out in the tropical waves alone in a canoe. 50 foot swells. Big waves. She was highly trained, and as she paddled, she put aside all her thoughts, and just trusted her instincts, her response to the moment. She was present in the swells, and she was okay. Being present even kept her safer than trying to think her way forward.

But I have to acknowledge that if a highly trained meditator was put out in that canoe, or a highly trained martial artist, then he or she would still probably have drowned, despite a high level of skill at being present. Just not enough competence in that other skill set.

The trouble with competence is that it can become a substitute for being alive. I think about it as I work on the farm, where I am often lost in thought about how to deal with this problem or that problem. And I NEED to think about these problems, or else the farm will fail. But if there is no presence, then the farm might as well fail.

That place of balance, where the training and the presence are together, that is the sweet spot.


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