A mind journey
When you run a cattle operation like my husband and I do you have to divide and conquer in order to get everything done which means you spend a lot of time alone doing solitary projects. During those times I love to think, ponder, mull things over. I find the process creative, relaxing and centering to take a journey with my mind. It is my world and mine alone. The other day I was working on fence. My task for the day was clipping yellow buttons onto metal posts that hold woven wire so that it becomes a tight, secure line before it is electrified. It is a tedious, repetitive process that can easily bore you to death unless you find a way to break the monotony. Instead of dreading these annoying chores I relish them for the chance to be quiet. I get a lot of inspiration in those lost hours of mindless activity.
On this particular day I was pondering the art of silence and being unplugged. As we have moved from a predominately industrial/farming society to a technological one the price we have paid is the absence of silence. We are plugged in 24/7 to our cellphones, emails, televisions and noise. This constant attention to everything around us creates the opposite of observation, we become desensitized and numb. Instead of contemplation we flit from one bit of information to the next in nanoseconds moving continuously in an ever-changing world of constant information.
If you make your living as a rancher you have to pay attention. To be a good hand you can't be daydreaming during your job if you are working together as a team. It is important to be constantly aware of what needs to be done and get in there and do it. Nobody is going to hold your hand or tell you what your job is, you have to be observant enough to figure it out yourself. There is a time and place to ponder and you have to be smart enough to figure out when that is and when it isn't. You might be sorting cattle and thirty minutes into it someone asks you how many head have gone through so far. You can't say, "Oh gee I don't know I was thinking about lunch". If you do you may be greeted with some pretty choice words. I can site endless examples as to why "checking out" during the work day is not a great idea because I have learned those lessons first hand. I have learned when I can ponder and when I can't. When I work alone on a repetitive task that's when I indulge in the luxury of a mind journey.
Once you hone your observation skills and incorporate silence into your life you begin to notice all kinds of things. The other night I was sitting outside in the early evening and heard loud balling. The sound echoed across the mountains, the meaning of which would be lost on most unless you were a cattlemen. To us it meant that our neighbor had just weaned his calves from their mothers and they were now all calling for each other. We also knew two days later when it quit that he had taken them to market. I heard at dusk the other night what at first sounded like a dog barking until it kicked in full force. It is a blood curdling sound when a group comes together. It sounds like a screaming child, but it isn't, it is the bone-chilling sound of coyotes, not a comforting thought when you have cattle or other animals. My point is that silence has many benefits, try it sometime and see what I mean. Take a journey with your senses and your mind, see what happens. Every now and then just unplug and check out for the evening you might be surprised how relaxing it really is.