There are certain accomplishments in life that are, by nature, ephemeral. A goal is set, perhaps unconsciously, and steps are taken to achieve that goal. After the fact, the thing you wanted to do has been done and you feel good. For me, it goes something like this: around 4 o’clock, at the end of the work day, you head out for a run to the bamboo stand (finally, after days of talking about it), running so fast you feel like you might have actually levitated, and then at the very end, exhausted and wet from crossing the river, you run twice as fast up that hill into camp just to prove to yourself that you can do it. (Full disclosure, it’s extra motivating to have your 6’4″, 200-lb running buddy challenging you every step of the way.) The physical nature of our work out on the farm provides me with a constant opportunity to push myself, to find my strength, to dig deeper…
And so we dug. And we transplanted plantain trees from the jungle. And we built garden beds. And we devised a compost unit.
Maybe it’s because I’m living out in the jungle and observing the infinitely wise and productive patterns of Mother Nature, but something about all this work just didn’t seem sustainable to me. How do we — okay, let’s back up for a second. How can I be more intentional – and more efficient – in every single thing that I do? Do I have the power to harness energy from my own accomplishments? And if I can, is this achievement-generated energy a renewable resource? Can I keep that feeling of deep, hard-earned satisfaction alive?
And so I stopped for a moment. Stopped digging, stopped transplanting, stopped building.
I thought about our farm, about extreme living conditions in the tropics. I observed the singed leaves of young, vulnerable plants exposed to direct sunlight. I wondered if I would ever in my life be able to grow anything besides lots and lots of beans. So I took out a pen, found a scrap of paper and said, today is the day. Today we can harness the goofy, enthusiastic, brilliant energy of the adventurous agriculture team. By transforming our focus from random tasks to building a lasting greenhouse, we invest. We invest in ourselves, in our future, and (not to sound too grandiose, but) in the future of our children.
With a few 2 x 4’s, some scrap hardwood we found around camp, plastic polyethylene sheeting, yards of duct tape and a whole lot of hope, a group of dedicated (if not ignorant) farmers built our very own greenhouse. It may not have been pretty, but we sure did it. And we did it together. And it felt damn good.