Jackie Mundt, Pratt County farmer and rancher
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
We are a nation consumed by one issue: coronavirus. I am not writing to make light of this serious issue, merely to observe the Dickens like dramatic feel that has our world waiting with bated breath for what the next chapter will bring.
A few months ago, prior to the public health concerns our story was similar to a novel. It was the best of times. A time of prosperity with the stock market high and unemployment low, advances in technology and medicine relieving the world’s ailments. The luxury of knowledge, plus material goods and foods delivered with the tap of your fingertips.
It was also the worst of time. People constantly at risk for burnout because we can’t escape the constant connection electronics provide. Millennials suffering from chronic errand paralysis, where a few small unurgent tasks nag at us for months because we just can’t find the time to check them off a list. Experts voiced concerns in our children, entertained by electronics every minute of the day, never learn the creativity born of boredom, and our current culture doesn’t allow many children to have the character building experiences that come from failures or not winning.
Reflecting on my life, I mostly consider it the best of times. I love my career communicating about the important work of agriculture. Marc and I are working together to build a foundation for our family through life on the farm. I volunteer much (probably too much) of my time with organizations that I believe in whole-heartedly. I am incredibly blessed in this life.
My biggest wish is often for more time. Constantly overwhelmed by the demands of my job, plus all my volunteer commitments, and eternally behind on all the everyday responsibilities like laundry and grocery shopping, I sometimes just want to hit pause.
I think many people can identify with the desire to hit the pause button so we can metaphorically get up and stretch our legs, get a snack and throw away candy wrappers. That extra moment to get healthy, feed our mind and soul, and organize our affairs. It would make everything better.
Currently, my sense of irony is excitedly exclaiming, “be careful what you wish for!” So many of the extra things in my life like volunteer obligations, organizational and social events have been temporarily halted.
The world continues to function and for many it has added responsibilities and challenges. We should all be grateful for the people who work in key sectors like medicine, public service, transportation, agriculture and food supply chain sectors who are continuing to work under less than ideal conditions.
But outside those foundational obligations, there is opportunity in this pause. Make your kids go outside so you can read Dickens. Find a way to do something good for your neighbors. Take control of your health. Give yourself the grace to be imperfect.
It won’t be long before the world hits play and things return to normal. Now is your time to make a change, take control of something that has felt beyond your reach or maybe just enjoy yourself for a bit.
Find the opportunity in this pause and make the most of it.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.