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Because It Just Happens

By   /  November 10, 2014  /  Comments Off on Because It Just Happens

Where does change come from? And how does it happen?

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Photo by Ben Hewitt

Photo by Ben Hewitt

The first cold morning. Not cool, cold. 23 degrees, wind gusting, ice on the cows’ water a half-inch thick. Long underwear. Gloves. The buttugly hat I got at the thrift store for a quarter. Penny tells me it’s not flattering and she’s right, but I wear it anyway. The sun came on me as I milked, first Pip, then Apple, and I squirted a little milk on the tips of my fingers to warm them. Web duck waited at my side for her morning ration and got it. The sound of her drinking: I love that sound.

Every once in a while, I find myself caught in old ways of thinking and I begrudge the milk she drinks, a cup a day or maybe a little more, 300 days each year. 300 cups. 75 quarts per year for five years now or maybe more.  All for a damn duck.

Actually, not true. I haven’t thought that way in years, and I don’t know why I said I have. I guess it’s more that I remember thinking that way, and this morning I remembered it and so gave her an extra slosh, a little stick of the knife, a flip of the bird (so to speak) to that old way of thinking. She probably won’t even drink it all. It’s probably out there right now, frozen solid. Tomorrow morning Penny will kick the icy chunk of it out onto the ground. An offering, then.

Sometimes I think about how people change. How I change. What are the levers? What are the reasons, the motivations? For instance, that thing about the milk, those 75 quarts year after year after year. How did I shift from begrudging the loss of that milk to understanding it’s not a loss at at? Shit, Web doesn’t need it. There’s plenty of food around this place. When did I make that shift? I don’t remember. I don’t think I even realized I’d made that shift until now.

I got an email from Andrea (actually, I got a bunch of emails from Andrea – and she from me – and that might be a topic for another day). You can’t convince people to change, she wrote. You can’t tell them what to doIt needs to come from within. 

I think I agree with her, because I can’t think of a single person who convinced me to change, at least not through the act of convincing me to change, which is probably an important distinction. You can’t tell people to change. Or I guess you can, but if you expect it to work, you’re deluding yourself.

But I also think something else: What’s within comes from what’s without (or is it with out?). It’s a reflection of what we see and hear and think, of the landscape we dress ourselves in, of the people we come to know and love (or conversely, to reject and dislike).   So what happened with the milk? I fed the damn duck for long enough that I came to like feeding the damn duck, the way she waits by my side until I’m finished milking. If I’m too slow for her liking, she might run her beak along my leg. Preening, almost.

Slowly, what was without came within and I wanted Web to have that milk.

So maybe I disagree with Andrea. Maybe you can convince people to change and maybe the way you do that is you offer them things – thoughts, art, ideas, emotions, memories, music, food, appreciation, affection, whatever you have to offer – and maybe eventually they take that within. Not because you tell them they should. Not because you say here’s this thing I have to offer you to help you change. Not because you’re even trying to change them (that would be crazy).

But because you’re not trying.

Because it just happens.

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  • Published: 2 years ago on November 10, 2014
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  • Last Modified: November 10, 2014 @ 7:35 pm
  • Filed Under: Consider This

About the author

I was born and raised in northern Vermont, in a two-room cabin situated on the 160-acre homestead my father purchased in the late 60’s. At 16, the legal age of “school leaving” in my home state, I dropped out of high school to pursue a self-designed study program in excessively loud heavy metal music and extreme partying. I began writing for magazines in my early 20’s; within two years, freelance magazine writing became my sole means of supporting myself and later, my family. "In 1997, my then-girlfriend (now wife) Penny and I purchased 40 acres in the town of Cabot, Vermont, where we now run a small-scale, diversified hill farm with our two sons, Finlay and Rye. We live in a self-built home that is powered by a windmill and solar photovoltaic panels, and tend a menagerie of animals, including cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens. We also have copious gardens, a small orchard, and a pick-your-own blueberry patch. Our focus is producing nutrient dense foods from vibrant, mineralized soils for ourselves and the immediate community. "I have written three books, am currently working on a fourth, and I still write the occasional magazine story. I am tremendously grateful to be so privileged. Thank you for your support. You can find my book's by searching for "Ben Hewitt" on Amazon.com, or by visiting your local bookstore. Learn more at http://benhewitt.net.

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