I’ve never considered myself to be a farm boy. After all, I didn’t grow up on a farm and in fact, the closest farm to where I did grow up was most likely over 100 miles away. And that’s just a guess because rarely did I find myself passing by or visiting a farm at all during my youth.
However, several days ago I was invited by my friends Matt and Alessa to spend a couple of days in the country town of Trentham, located in the hills of the Great Dividing Range, some two hours outside of Melbourne. This tiny town, the center of which basically consists of one pub, one small supermarket, a couple of shops, a bakery and a cricket pitch, is also home to several farms, and one of those farms happens to belong to Matt’s family.
So off we went for a visit and naturally, I had no idea what to expect, other than a few fields full of potatoes and a few paddocks full of sheep. But only minutes after driving up the gravel driveway and being greeted by the family’s energetic and loyal sheep dog, I discovered that I needed these couple of days in the quiet countryside more than I ever imagined.
SHEEP AND SERENITY
From the moment I pulled an old, worn out pair of boots over my feet, tucked my pant legs inside my socks and took my first step of what would prove to be a two hour wander around the farm, I felt a sudden flame of unexpected enthusiasm run through me. And this feeling only intensified as I began hand-feeding the sheep, eating fruits right off the trees and listening to flocks of kookaburras koo-koo-koo-ka-ka-ka’ing away.
Yes, most of us experience some happiness when surrounded by nothing but nature, but in this case, as the fallen branches crunched beneath my feet and as I exchanged glances with a brown wallaby that appeared behind a tree, I found myself fully transported into a state of being where everything around me seemed perfect.
Despite the cold temperature, a strong desire to roam around this seemingly endless plot of nature for days on end soon took up residence inside of my head. Had there been actual farm work to be done at this time of the year, I would have unhesitatingly sheared some sheep, fixed the dam, removed a fallen tree or even harvested some potatoes, and then I would have gladly woken up early the next morning for more of the same.
What made this interaction with nature so unique for me, was that, for the first time in a long while, I had achieved a sense of serenity and calm that allowed me to think with complete clarity. Most of my daily worries, confusion and frustrations had simply vanished and I was living in the present moment, which, when compared to the normal state of my mind as of late, is apparently not how I’ve been living.
This realization, made while standing near the bank of a small creek, forced me to question my pursuit of happiness in life and wonder whether or not laboring away for hours each day on my laptop is actually the best use of my time.
KANGAROOS AND MEDITATION
When nightfall arrived and what appeared to be every star in the Milky Way shone overhead, my friend Matt took Liz and I on an unforgettable ride, one that truly left me with the urge to toss my laptop into that same small creek and start life anew. We went kangaroo spotting and as we drove across the dark, wide-open fields in a pick-up truck, we came upon a group of over thirty kangaroos, which we proceeded to follow around the farm for ten minutes, while all three of us smiled widely and in awe the entire time.
This may not sound too exciting to some of you but the combination of a beautiful night sky, fresh mountain air, being in a remote location and all of those kangaroos hopping around so very close to me, resulted in a child-like giddiness that I did not want to let go of any time soon. Closing my eyes, I summoned all of my inner strength in order to latch onto that feeling of elation for as long as possible.
The rest of my visit to the farm could not have been more satisfying either, as we explored the entire region, stopping by waterfalls, tasting mineral water from natural springs inside the Wombat State Forest, strolling around a lavender farm and a botanical garden and enjoying a lakeside lunch in the slightly larger country town of Daylesford.
Heck, before we began the drive back to Melbourne I even learned how to drive a tractor, which, by the way, proved to be quite a meditative experience as I sat there alone, with sun roof open, just chugging along at 10km/hour, around and around and around the peaceful green pastures.
LEAVING THE FARM
Eventually, we had to leave the farm and during the drive back to Melbourne, I sat in silence, staring out the window with my mind still full of nothing but happy thoughts. This was a far cry from a normal evening, when I usually find myself worrying about my blog and my work and my travel plans and emails and on and on. Naturally, I’d prefer to have a head full of happy thoughts every single day instead.
And considering that a pair of old boots and a field of lavender has the power to rid my life of all it’s worries, would I not be better off wandering around forests and mountains, working on farms and spending less time on my laptop?
In reality, the chances of me ever tossing my laptop into the creek are quite slim, but I can’t deny that such a move would most likely bring instant and long-lasting inner peace and joy into my life. And for that very reason, I have not been able to get this idea out of my head since my visit to the farm one week ago.
Do you sometimes think about a drastic change in lifestyle? And what do you think drives us to exchange a simple, satisfying life for one with infinitely more challenges?