Who might you be now if you’d fallen in love with a different person or path than you did? A local politician, pilot, carpenter? An avant-garde artist, small business owner, spy, or — my most cherished alternate realities - a horsewoman and a mother? What’s your most buried passion?
Kristin Kimball, author of the memoir The Dirty Life, was a New York City journalist and hipster, a Harvard graduate, when she met Mark, a passionate organic farmer. They fell in love and started a farm with the preposteroudly ambitious goal of supplying its paying members with their whole diet. Not just with dozens of different vegetables like thousands of CSA’s (community sponsored agriculture farms) nationwide, but milk, grains, eggs, beef, dried beans, flour, chicken, pork, maple syrup and more, all farmed from their land. Oh, with draft horses rather than tractors. Sweaty, sometimes dangerous and always dirt-encrusted, farming was a life she had never planned on, but found she loved.
The Dirty Life riveted me like a rollicking action film that’s spiced with sensuality and the life of the body. My favorite of many takeaways is this: contrary to what our culture tells us, physical work can be meaningful. Even more heretical, it can be joyful. Ms. Kimball is keeping alive the ancient knowledge of how to sustain ourselves, rather than entrusting that to the industrial agriculture complex that is completely dependent on fossil fuels. She lies awake at night wondering if the rain may be melting the snow cover, exposing and endangering the garlic and other perennials. “These are the kinds of thoughts that have occupied the majority of the human race — the agrarians — for most of the history of the world. And I am one of them now.”
If you live near me you’re welcome to borrow my copy of The Dirty Life, provided you return it within a couple of months, when I know I’ll want to reread it. If you don’t live near me, I recommend supporting your local bookstore by buying it there.
Over to you: what is your buried passion, your path not taken?