Lessons From a Farmer
The soil says, “Don’t bring me your need, bring me your seed.”
When I was a teenager, I had the unique opportunity to learn some incredibly valuable life lessons from my grandfather who was a farmer in South Korea. It was the summer of 1998, and my grandparents came from Korea to live with us in our house in Suwanee, GA. Being farmers, and I’m sure boredom had a lot to do with it, they would go out to the back yard and dig all day long. I would go out and help them because at first I thought it would be fun. The back yard to my parent’s house is huge! Believe me when I tell you that it is a very large back yard, and if you’ve never tried to build a garden in the red Georgia clay you have no idea how difficult of a task it was. I was only 17 years old when I thought I would die an early death from exhaustion.
I remember several times I would stop and complain about how much my body hurt, and how hot it was outside. I would tell my grandfather in Korean, “You know, grandpa, we don’t have to plant sweet potatoes. We can just buy them at the Korean market.” He would stay silent and just continue working the ground. I would get upset and go back inside in the air condition and watch TV – you know, enjoy my summer break. After a few hours, my grandmother would ask me to take some water out to him. One way or another I would always end up back outside. It was amazing how much work my grandfather would accomplish in that time. I would feel bad that I did nothing to help. He would ask me if I could help him with this or that, and I would find myself resentfully shoveling and breaking up the red clay full of rocks and tree roots. It seemed like a never-ending task, and I was sure that it wouldn’t amount to anything. Nothing would grow in this, especially vegetables and potatoes! I was sure the man was out to ruin my summer. There was so much wisdom in his silence. I was just too ignorant and stubborn to recognize it or understand it. He would just continue working no matter how much I complained and argued that nothing would grow.
When Fall came the next year, we had a beautiful farm in our back yard. Perfectly parallel rows of all sorts of plants were all growing and ready for the harvest! We had rows and rows of lettuce, sweet potatoes, onions, sesame plants, green peppers, you name it! I remember standing there in front of this massive garden that we – uh hum, I mean he made, and feeling so rewarded. I will never forget what he told me at that moment. “Even though things may seem impossibly difficult, just keep working at it and soon enough you will get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Hardships don’t last forever, and you will always reach your goals if you don’t give up. Just don’t resent the labor.” I didn’t appreciate the lessons he taught me then, but he planted the seeds in my mind back then that are now serving me very well. I wish I had the chance to thank him for the many lessons he taught me by the example of his life. I guess the final lesson he left me with is that the time to express our gratitude is now – not later. The time to put in the work is now. Now is the time to do all that we can, and put all that we have into it. If you are in a line of work that you feel does not deserve all that you’ve got, now is the time to change that. The time is now, not later.
I truly hope that he is proud of the man I’ve become. Whenever I catch myself feeling resentful towards the labor, like today for example, I always remind myself of the time I spent with my grandfather that summer. Sometimes my body just doesn’t want to cooperate, and the aches and pains seem like a good reason to complain. I often wonder why I put in so much effort and time into my grooms when I could get away with so much less. I do it to honor my grandfather, one of the greatest men who walked this earth. He showed me that the only way to enjoy a good harvest is to put in the honest effort. Because of the work he put in over 17 years ago, my mother now enjoys growing anything she wants because the soil is so fertile. You can throw an apple back there and I’m sure after a few years you’ll have a tree! The reason I put in so much effort on every single dog I groom, no matter what the pay amounts to, is because I believe that the work I put in has a lasting positive impact on the dog’s life.
“Don’t wish it was easier; wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges; wish for more wisdom.”
“God has the tough end of the deal. What if instead of planting the seed you had to make the tree? That would keep you up late at night, trying to figure that one out.”
If you would like to learn more about my philosophy on grooming dogs, please click this link: http://furrificspaw.com/about/
I will also be conducting a 3-Day Workshop at K9 Lifeline in Draper, Utah if you would like to learn hands-on: https://www.facebook.com/events/1476690689299030/