Growing up, seasons were determined by the smell of spring rains and barn-smoked tobacco, corn dust hanging in the evening fog and the clear-aired chill of winter. Just as familiar were the crop cycles of family farms and the advertised goods of local Amish communities. Springtime heralded turkey hunting and frog-gigging season while autumn was for doves, ducks, and deer. We were masters of the land, people of the earth.

Harvests saw fewer hours of daylight and, consequently, more empty seats in the classroom. Periodically, between tobacco, corn, soybeans, and the occasional cotton crop, fields would be left fallow – to rest and recuperate necessary minerals and nutrients from the exhaustion of near-constant production. At times, the fields grew wild on their own while others were torched, reduced to ash.

These bewitching rhythms of rural life influence the dialects and decisions of its peoples – and necessarily much of their politics and faith. The pride of rural folk is strong, the hospitality – or grudge-holding – legendary. Years later, these rhythms hold a special place in my heart and serve as mental reminders of the cycles of life.

Still, too, I am reminded of the necessity to periodically purge one’s mental fields – to question, examine, and, if required, refresh one’s beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes. Without doing so, we run the risk of depletion and living unexamined life. At times, the weeds growing in one’s mental fields may become so noxious as to require a full-scale torching to ensure future health and wellbeing.

I have experienced this pattern many times over the years. It is one I relish and hope never becomes tiring or seen as unnecessary. It is through living intentionally and consistently questioning perceptions of reality that we commit to an ever-evolving state of being. Much like my previous musing on being a stream – or a rock within the flow of the stream – I also contemplate the health of my “crops”, my “soil”.

I leave you with a few frequently pondered questions:

How often do you examine the roots of your opinions, beliefs, and attitudes? 

When was the last time you changed your mind about something small? Something significant? 

Does the act of self-reflection fill you with pain – or does it excite and refresh you? 

How can we consistently strive towards our highest good – the best version of ourselves? 

If all else fails and you find yourself stuck, repeating dramas and unhealthy storylines, raze your fields and see what returns. You might be surprised with the results.

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