If you are my approximate age and grew up on a farm, you probably remember how long summers used to last when you spent day after sweaty day walking beans or de-tasseling corn. The start of school (and an end to the 12-hour chore days) seemed to take forever.
For proof of the “relativity of time” theory, look no further than your children. Every mother thinks time stands still when faced with a colicky infant, sleep deprivation and potty training. But what about when they’re teenagers? Every time I look at my daughter (now 13 and taller than me), I’m convinced she should still be five, holding my hand to cross a parking lot and totally in love with her parents (sigh).
According to psychologist Philip Zimbardo, it’s not just 13-year-olds who need to sloooooow down; it’s us (freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/time-is-relative/?emc=eta1). We probably don’t need some psychologist brainiac to tell us all that we eat too fast, work too long, worry too much. We spend too little time sitting down to dinner together. We sacrifice our friends, our family and our sleep in order to “get ahead” in our jobs. According to the latest statistics, only 20 percent of households sit down and have dinner together.
One thing is for certain: as fast as time goes by at our age (mine anyway), there IS no going back. So, as we look ahead to 2011, how about making a couple resolutions to help us all make time a little more meaningfully. Here’s my short list of 2011 Resolutions:
1) I resolve to do everything slower: walking, talking, breathing, praying; you know, the Big Stuff.
2) I resolve to tell my family members every day that I love them. Let me just say that anyone with a surly teenager at home knows this can sometimes be harder than it sounds (sigh).
3) I resolve to let my dog take his time to check out evvvverrrything on our morning walks. At least once a week, anyway (sorry, Spot).
4) I resolve to chew my food. Slowly. No more burgers wolfed down at my desk while I “work through lunch”. Sure, it’s not practical every day, but a recent dinner with friends at a new French restaurant in Des Moines (tinyurl.com/2wuojrj) convinced me that there is beauty in planning and enjoying a slowly and carefully-prepared meal. I need to take time to actually taste and enjoy my food!
5) And finally, I resolve to share even more stories of Iowans who DO take their time doing what’s right in the name of putting food on ALL our tables: farmers. Farmers, more than anyone else, understand the theory of “relative time.” Their technology has evolved faster than our nation’s space program, yet the raw materials at their disposal remain unchanged: soil, water, work ethic. Technology can shorten a growing season, increase yields or improve the nutrition of a chicken egg, but it can’t change values. Values of good farmers don’t change. Let’s hope we all resolve to remember that in 2011. Happy New Year!
Laurie Johns is Public Relations Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau.