To anyone that knows a farmer, or knows rural people in general, it is not surprising to hear that they dislike change. As conservative people, the country folk rarely relish when the settled order of life is disrupted. If you go to the local diner, you’ll see the same guy at the same spot at the counter every week; at Church on Sunday they’ll sit in the same pew they’ve been at all their lives.
This is not necessarily a quality restricted to rural people or famers either. If you took a general poll of any group, you would find most like the idea of change, but shrink from its application. As humans, we like to fall into our routines and behaviors, not altering or deviating from it if possible. Life, however, is rarely so charitable.
For progress, for growth and development, change is required. It stimulates new life into a community, farm, or family. It’s necessary for innovation and creativity, the two rivers that feed growth in economics and society. It is an elemental force, with a continual presence and influence in our lives.
We cannot say that change is really “good” or “bad.” Much like the actual weather, these storms of life have little malice to their actions, but still shake up the lives around it. Like a storm, for all the devastation present in its wake, it brings new growth and new life. Change challenges us to adapt and improve regardless of how we perceive it.
We generally equate good change with additions to our lives, or at least obvious improvements or advantages. New jobs, new relationships, new homes tend to fall into this category. It can, however, be deceptive. Expecting everything to be good and easy, we fail to observe the possible pitfalls that lie in our path. If we go forward in the change, expecting our current skills and abilities to be sufficient, we fall flat. The change requires innovation and adaptation to survive it, even in the best of circumstances. Our new job requires new skills, new relationships require new sensitivity, and new homes require more effort than before expended.
While good change is associated with advantages, bad change generally comes with some kind of loss. It could be the loss of a job, home, or a loved one. The danger of this change is a little more obvious than the other, focusing on the misery of our loss. Though different, it is a similar pit as good change; we again fail to adapt to the new circumstances. It forces us to adapt and improve ourselves through pain and sadness.
Self-pity can become very seductive in these situations. It can feel cathartic at first, a balm to pain, but cancerous in the long run, preventing us from moving forward with our lives.
Regardless of how the change is perceived, our sight become colored by the circumstances. Unable to see everything clearly, we fail to observe hidden opportunities and pitfalls that present themselves. In Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem, If, he asks, “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters the same.” These moments are illusions, temporary and fleeting in our lives, but instrumental in pushing us to mature and grow. Whether the change is taken as good or bad, it requires us to mature in both skills and character to overcome the obstacles thrown in our ways.
Once there was a man who worked in a boring city job, which bothered him. He wanted to become a vegetable farmer; it was all he could talk about some times. Eventually, the opportunity to raise vegetables was presented to him, and he was hired by a farm. On cloud nine, he attacked his new profession with energy, raising several different varieties of kale, tomatoes, peas, and beans, along with all the other veggies.
The problem was that in his passion, everyone overlooked his lack of knowledge or ability. He had applied the knowledge and skills he possessed, but failed to add to them. Without any new knowledge or skills learned, he ran an overly complex system that wasn’t profitable. Despite his enthusiasm, he didn’t adapt to meet the new challenges of his opportunity and ended up losing it.
There was another man who lost his job. Without any other options, he was presented with a lower paying job in farming. Without any other choice, and a family to feed, he took the chance and started farming. Though growing up vaguely familiar with agriculture, it had not been his passion. His new job was different from what he had done before, and he had to study for it. Through preparation, he adapted to the new job and began to enjoy it. Later, he found success in agriculture and became a better person through the process.
Here is a story of two men, both of whom moved from a different job to farming. One wanted to do it and failed; the other hadn’t planned on it and found success. The distinguishing difference had also been how they went about the job. One took only the skills he knew, the other added to it. The change, in this simplified story, was taken without innovation by the first, but with innovation by the second.
Change is inevitable, regardless of how we may try to plan against it. As with so much in our lives, the question is more of how we will respond to the change, good or bad, and if we will adapt and improve through the experiences.