Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Desire To Take This And Not Throw Away That...

...Is the way to lose that and not gain this.

:Yoshida Kenko, no. 188, Essays in Idleness

Some of you may know that I've taken up garlic growing this past year. My plot upstate is a borrowed one, and as such requires less commitment than one for which I could be paying. In other words, in Kenko's words, I get to take this and keep that. This weekend, I am about to challenge my commitment, as I head out to my former haunt on the North Fork of Long Island to look at farm land for rent. It's hard to imagine how, just three summers ago, staring at a desolate and weedy community garden led me to the point where I may actually be renting farmland. What? When I say it, it sounds off the wall. Then, I think of the admonishments of Kenko.

As you may also know, I am not only a guy who can't seem to get enough growing. I also paint. So how is it that a guy with a day job can also find time to paint and farm a field of garlic (and what else)? Maybe the more pointed question is this: how can I be thinking of committing to another financial loser like farming (assuming that you knew painting was a money loser)? The USDA points out that farm households that generate between $10,000 and $250,000 in sales receive about 4% of their income from their farm. For those who sell less than $10,000 worth? Well, they are actually net losers of income by about 13 percent.

Farming is a passion, a lifestyle, a heritage, and folly. These days, unless you are a mega-corporate farmer, passionate and penniless farming may lead to little more than a hobby.

Those who make a business of any art or trade, even if they are unskillful, are always superior when compared with skillful persons who are amateurs. The reason for this is the difference between never relaxing one's care and being always earnest in the one case, and being entirely one's own master in the other.

:Kenko, no. 187

The middle of winter sows doubt. The thought of renting, and, mind you, the opportunity is good and affordable as land goes, leads me to feeling willful and clever, not unskilled and earnest. I am an amateur.

...We should weigh in our minds which is the most important of all the things which we would desire to make our aim in life, and having decided which is the first thing, we should abandon all others and devote ourselves to that one thing.  When in the space of a day, nay, even of an hour, a number of tasks present themselves, we should perform that one of them which is even by a little the most profitable, and neglect all others to hasten on the important matter.

:Kenko, no. 188


  1. Aye. And on the day I made it onto a best list. Aye.

  2. Go east young man, as the expression goes. Good luck.

  3. I will and touch the earth and see what it is that I feel.


If I do not respond to your comment, it is only because I am having trouble doing so...