Five weeks ago Jackson and I pulled out of San Diego and headed for Ahwahnee in a 16 foot rental truck from Budget. Several hours later we pulling into our driveway, the truck took out a limb on an old peach tree, and Murray and Kristen greeted us.
Tonight, Murray and Ms. Bey (our dogs) will load up the Subaru and head back to San Diego to wrap up. From there we’ll wrap things up in San Diego, pack another load of stuff, and (Good Lord willing) head back to our new home early next week.
Last night I watched Adam Sandler’s new movie on Netflix, Hustle. He’s a 50-something year old NBA basketball scout who has pursued his NBA coaching dream his entire life and gone virtually no where. Early in the film he has his Jerry Maguire moment where he realizes that in order to fulfill his dream he’s going to need to take a chance so risky he might lose his job. He says to himself, “In your 50’s you don’t have dreams you have nightmares.”
What he meant was that by the time you get into your 50’s you should be done dreaming about your life. You should be locked into something secure. You should be thinking about wrapping up your career successes instead of taking on new, risky projects.
With respect, because I love Adam Sandler even though I’ve never met the guy, I disagree. The last thing I want on my tombstone is the epitaph: “He played it safe and still ended up here.”
Kristen and I look at the success in our lives we’ve built over the past 25 years and, while certainly tempting to ride out our next 20 years before we think about retiring, we’re thinking about getting after the next big dream for our family: Whatever it is that McLandia Farms can become.
I think about the risk we took in joining our friends at PPM… from the outside maybe that looked like a big risk? But to us it was a risk worth pursuing. And I’m really loving the work I’m doing, it’s hard, but stuff like launching PPM365 last month is exactly why I still think PPM is worth the sacrifices we make to pursue.
And as I look at the risk we took in selling our San Diego home to build a new life for ourselves here… sure, it’s risky. (You should see my homeowners insurance: They know it’s a risk!) But it’s a measured risk that brings us a ton of joy and opportunity, too.
Let me take the focus off my own pursuit and ask you about your own dreams. Maybe you’re 25 and you’ve got dreams for yourself so private you’re afraid to say them out loud because they might sound dumb? Or maybe you’re 35, got a couple little kids and the idea of pursuing your dream for your own self sounds foolish or even a bit selfish? Or maybe you’re 55, you’ve moved on from raising kids to grandkids and looking forward to retirement life?
I hope you look at Kristen and I and think: Maybe my dreams are worth pursuing after all?
It’s OK to say yes to the opportunity a smart risk brings along.
The Road Ahead
I’ve been going to the Mariposa Certified Farmers Market each Wednesday evening. It’s been a great way to get to know some locals who are into all things organic, plants, food, and community. It’s only 12-15 stalls each week but I really love going.
I don’t know yet if our dream will include something for sale at the Farmers Market but I’m not opposed to going that direction. Whether it is or it isn’t I’ve found the farmers market to be inspiring because it’s full of people ahead of us on this journey.
The past month has been fun getting to know the vendors. Each week I stop and chew the fat with a few, asking about their farms and what they sell and how they got started. Last night I had a nice conversation with a woman who lives in Fish Camp, 4 miles as the crow flies from our house, but 45 minutes over the mountain or around the mountain. I was describing our property and she nodded her head. She told me about her place being in similar condition when she took it over: dry, dusty, full of weeds, not much productivity and not much biodiversity.
Her sharing brought into my memory the journey Kristen and I took with our house in Rolando. When we bought it in 2015 it came with a “mow, blow, and go” type of gardener who quickly cut the grass and sprayed chemicals before leaving for two weeks. (No knock on those guys, they are feeding their families and providing a service people want.) But it wasn’t what we wanted for our home. We reluctantly fired him and started pursuing a different path towards native plants and edible gardening in an organic, regenerative way.
I know the path ahead on our dream for this place is going to be hard.
I joke with friends that everything in the mountains either wants to kill you, poke you, or make you itch. I’m waiting for some new footwear to arrive today that’ll hopefully help me not fall as much on the loose, sandy soil and rocks of our property.
The path ahead for Kristen and I is going to be hard. We want to move on from weed management to soil management. In the next couple of months we’ll need to make hard choices as we build out the infrastructure this property needs to fulfill our dream. That means spending money… and spending money isn’t in our nature… life has taught us to always hold our money.
And of course, we’re pursuing all of this part-time while we hold down our real jobs and raise our kids and all of that.
We know the path ahead is hard. But it was hard in Rolando. It was hard in Romeo. It was hard in Chicago. It was hard in South Bend.
Just because a dream is hard to pursue doesn’t mean it’s a dream not worth pursuing.
There’s something deep in me that likes that challenge. And, dear reader, I hope that you like pursuing difficult dreams too.