We are not put on this earth to see through one another,
but to see one another through.
That’s right. Say it.
I’ve been a bit stressed lately. Moving too fast, getting tangled up in triteness, dodging life’s bullets, stepping on my own air hose. Lord knows, I needed to just stop. And breathe. And eat Amish cookies.
For anyone who’s not had the uniquely joyful experience of peering into the Amish community firsthand, I would recommend you add it to your Bucket List.
Get a pencil. I’ll wait while you write it down. A-M-I-S-H. Ready?
So to shake off All Things Troublesome and get re-focused, I needed to disconnect. If only for a brief time. And there are few Americans more disconnected from modern society, yet totally connected with their own community, than the Amish. I drive 120 miles west and enter a world that’s 100 years past.
Well dadgum, will you look at that?
Inhale, exhale … I’m breathing again.
I don’t know if part of the reason I find the Amish way of life so fascinating is that I’m a ginormous history freak. And quite frankly, the Amish are living history.
Or. It may be the fact they make some incredible kettle corn.
I’ll admit, it’s a toss-up.
But the fact remains that when I’m driving down rural roads, seeing their exquisitely manicured farms and watching these people touch the earth, I slow down.
And I think.
I witness their bountiful, leafy vegetable gardens intertwined with vibrantly colorful flowers and see something of value, something tangible for their time and effort. I see purpose and meaning and what must be a sense of satisfaction, if not pride, for a job well done.
When I catch a glimpse of groups of children riding bikes barefoot together down quiet lanes, I see significance that they’re connecting with one another in real time. Not via the Internet.
Passing one farm I saw at least twenty buggies, horses tethered to hitching posts, men working beside one another gathering up a crop. Leaning against the fence were at least a dozen bikes of the children running around the farm and playing on the swing set, while the women set a picnic table for lunch.
Everywhere I see community. I see a belief system in action.
And I see connectivity to one another.
And it hits me like a brick.
Perhaps, it’s not necessarily that I need to disconnect,
but maybe I’m simply connected to the wrong things.
Now. I’m quite sure life on an Amish farm is not for the faint hearted and I’m certainly not suggesting I want to be one with the Amish. I’ll hazard to guess that making a decision to go to town and spending gawd-knows-how-much time hitching up the horse and buggy to get there is not something they meditate on lightly.
Or the clothes I saw hanging on the clothesline of every single farm I passed (side note: Friday must be The Official Day for Laundry) made me feel a slight bit foolish when I recalled just how put out I can be about having to toss clothes into my white contraption and spin the dial.
Oooh poor me and Mr. Kenmore.
However. It struck me that the things they did and the time they spent doing them had greater meaning. For as commonplace as their chores were, nothing felt common. The point seems to be not the completion of the task, but the doing of it.
I did have a moment, however, watching a flatbed wagon of young Amish couples heading in my direction, where I wondered how harmful the total disconnect was to the young people. Were they at a disadvantage without higher education, without the benefit of the Internet or television where they could see the larger picture of the world as a whole? Or did the assurance of a lifelong place in their community negate their desire to know more or live in an expanded society where life can be immensely more superficial?
All in all, the whole experience left me wondering how do I find balance between their lifestyle and mine? How do I consistently create a life of real connections, moments of value, and the ability to shrug off the worries that won’t matter much even six months from now?
I’m going to need another homemade oatmeal raisin cookie to ponder the matter.