Reflection: Restrictions and Growth
2020 has been a dance between control and surrender. It was the year of the Hero’s Journey. My year began with an idealistic plan to embark upon an adventure, and start a life somewhere new. I say idealistic because I didn’t carefully plan out the details. I just knew I was ready to leave New Orleans and experience another city or town. I had some friends in Vegas and wanted to explore the Dance and Yoga scene out there.
I decided I would travel in 2020 with the non-profit WWOOF.
I found a farm in Tecopa, CA, an hour from Las Vegas and set my sights on it. The farm was beautiful in so many ways, but it intimidated me when I first got there. It was a self-sustaining farm in the middle of the Desert. Previously I had worked on my friend’s farm in Austin, another organic farm, off-grid and self-sustaining, but much smaller in scale. I arrived in Tecopa on March 1, just a few weeks before the pandemic caused a lockdown all across the country.
Upon first arriving, my plan was to stay there for a couple months, drive to Las Vegas on the weekends, and spend all my free time in the city, away from the farm. I had always considered myself a “hard worker”, but I felt compelled to achieve my specific aims: Relocate to Las Vegas, get a job, and build my business as a Yoga Instructor, attending 3-5 networking events a week and finding my niche. I determined I needed to start taking action to achieve future goals, but the present moment was eluding me.
Prior to the lockdown, I had been in this constant state of looking ahead and never right in front of me. I needed to create specific conditions and then I would be happy . . . or so I thought. I thought I was being responsible by making plans for the future, but it only led to restless energy. I was physically at the farm, but my priorities were elsewhere, so I gave up easily on difficult tasks at hand and spent my free time in my room or the city. When the city of Las Vegas went into lockdown in mid-march, I had to slow down like everyone else.
I had to learn how to surrender and live in the moment, even when I felt like running away.
I can still recall the conversation with my friend, who owned the farm. It was uncomfortable and led me to reevaluate my commitments and priorities. My focus shifted from my preoccupation with relocating to a city and “making it”, to being present and doing the best with the moment at hand. I needed to embrace both stillness and uncertainty, uncomfortable but necessary for my growth. I had a choice to make: stay and work physically hard or lockdown somewhere else. She explained that with everything going into lockdown, she could not have people coming and going without potentially compromising the health and safety of her workers and customers. With everything in the city closing and the fact that I didn’t have a place to live in Las Vegas, this was the best place to be. I realized it was time to learn how to be in one place at a time. If I was going to spend my quarantine here, I would need to become part of this community and help when and wherever possible.
I had traveled all this way for a reason, to grow and become more self-reliant. I thought it would happen a certain way, but I had to adapt to the bigger situation to actually experience transformation.
I began to pay more attention to the present moment, channeling my energy into everyday farm tasks at hand, rather than constantly worrying about the future or my personal goals.
I learned some valuable life lessons when I shifted my focus to doing the best with the moment at hand, prioritizing the present over the future.
1. Hard work really does pay off.
Working outdoors, tending to a garden, or doing anything physically demanding may hurt temporarily. In the end, one feels a significant satisfaction from consistently putting in effort to make something beautiful. I performed challenging physical tasks that led me to appreciate basic things we often take for granted. Collecting and cleaning fresh eggs twice a day, planting and pruning over 300 tomato plants, and continuously maintaining the garden beds and greenhouses led me to understand what goes into food production.
The hard work was worth the benefits though. I loved being able to pick fresh vegetables and herbs and make an entire meal out of them. Also, things got easier overtime. I enjoyed the freedom of answering to nature alone, rather than people and societal expectations. I learned what it means to be responsible in a new way and how rewarding it can be to take others’ needs, the well-being of other people, and the environment into consideration.