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Friday, August 2, 2013

The Existential Farmer

"Mommy, can I watch the farmer?"

Imagine the reaction of farmer Pat hearing this over two years ago. Yes, at the time, I was wearing a baseball cap and moving fill in a tractor. And I hadn't run into any fences, at least during the minutes before the question was asked. Still, what a disconnect for a boy raised in Irvington, NJ. My first public swimming experience was no watering hole or lazy creek; it was the all concrete Boylan St. Pool in nearby Newark. Farm animals? On TV only. Tractors? Made of plastic. Hay? You mean the kind that causes fever, right?

Recalling that incident while driving the same tractor today, I reflected on how often in life others, especially strangers, see us in a wholly different light than we see ourselves. When was the last time this happened to you? Aside from the beguiling innocence of the question, I also recalled how liberating it felt to be somebody different for a few seconds. What was expected of farmer Pat? I didn't know - how nice that was. Uh-oh; farmer Pat was now on an existential journey in a tractor.

I wonder how the same innocent question would land with me now after doing farm work every Friday morning for two years. Though I'm not sure, at least I'm back near planet Earth.                 

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