Replanting & Coping with the fear of failure

July 18, 2017

I am very very tired….and there is yet so much to do….but I am hopeful we can sew it all up before the arrival of the rainy season.

On the bright side. The weather seems to be regularizing. This should hopefully speed up work.

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‘The pressure to perform is bone crushing. I’ve had to improvise endlessly due to the erratic weather. It’s not 100%. Compromises regularly feature. This cannot be done…so that must be done instead so the overall plan and strategy goes thru a series of modifications that takes it all elsewhere from where it’s supposed to go…sometimes to uncharted territory, it seems.

This makes me anxious. As I frequently find myself in places that I hardly recognise or want to be in….I struggle to constantly keep a happy line between my fears and the prospects of failure.

Many of the things I am doing have never been done before in the world of farming. They’re experimental and the cutting edge of agronomy. The villagers look at me with a curious mix of interest and trepidation…..as the way of replanting seems to be turned on its head – there are times when I struggle to reconcile myself with what I know and whether I should share….truth is it’s unnatural to keep on farming the same crop time and again on the same plot of land. This corrosive practice is called monoculture. And I know it’s unsustainable….it’s a mathematical connundrum that in my opinion requires many compromises….I have to play hide and seek with nature to win in this game – it’s not just a case of planting row after row of trees. No. To take on nature one has to be crafty….it’s a bit like mountain climbing. One can spend hours. A whole day. Week even studying weather patterns. Then when it’s clear. One rushes up her skirt to summit.

But this undertaking is very different. There is no promise of redemption. Not in the short run at least. I wouldn’t know for sure whether everything I have done would even pay off for the next four years. Agriculture is very slow to reveal her hand. Do it all wrong and it could seem right for years only for it to come back and bite you.

I wear an iron mask every day. Everyone only sees a man of steel. A fearless man who stares out impassively and knowingly at the capriciousness of fate and who is willing to do battle with her….today a man told me…what you ask of me cannot be done! I told him get back into the tractor and if you fail me I swear that you will not find work for two hundred miles radius for as long as you live!

It was done…the discipline must hold…the line must be tight as a drum!…do you think it’s a democracy! It’s a fucking military junta dictatorship idiot! How do you like my freedom to dole out a Kung fu panda flying kick! You want more or that!

In my private moments. I find myself turning to Homer’s Illiad for solace. I read slowly in camp….I have come down with dysentery and limping as an old climbing injury on my left foot is playing up again….I may have to use a walking stick in the field.

I chew usually on small bites of Homer’s classic, The Odyssey – often drawing strength from the characters….the steadfast loyalty of Penelope, who waits faithfully for 20 years for her husband’s return. Duty, Telemachus, who stands by his absent father against the suitors who have invaded their family home. Servanthood, Emacus the lady in waiting to Penelope. Sagacity, Eumaeus, the swineherder who has to bear the cruel barbs of the unruly suitors. Diligence in Philoetius, the cow herder who continues to bring milk despite his master’s absence are all exemplary in their loyalty, service and honor to their master and his possessions.

But the theme that resonates most to me is Odysseus tragic loneliness and how he tries to cope stoically at best he or for that matter any man can as he searches to return home to his loved ones despite his many trials.

Many at the homefront are not aware of my problems…I don’t want to burden them….so I bottle it all up….my deteriorating health…the hellish living conditions in the field…

I read it slowly savoring every sentence all the while wishing I had a neck as long as a giraffe. Yes…the idea of home can be so very compelling to a man who believes he is marrooned…so near, yet so very far that it might even belong to another age…another life – like one of those stars I find myself staring at from time to time…wondering to myself whether perhaps the faint light that streams out is all but a remnant of a star that has long since cooled and died…

I am the man of steel…the great planter who always surefooted.

Nothing in this world can be accomplished without iron discipline….we will win!

“By nights he would lie beside her, of necessity, in the hollow caerns, against his will, by one who was willing, but all the days he would sit upon the rocks, at the seaside, breaking his heart in tears and lamentation and sorrow as weeping tears he looked out over the barren water.”

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