Who Tills His Land

Who tills his soil is sated with bread,

    But who pursues empty things is sated with poverty.

Only the farmers among us read that properly the first time.  The rest of us heard, “who works hard is sated…”  But our proverb zeros in on a certain kind of work, the labor to be undergone without the end anywhere close in sight.

What is in sight is a large patch of hard dirt with a few dandelions throughout.  Or a couple hundred people who are, at this moment, only potential customers.  Or simply mournful words on a page: Term Paper due 26 April.

Yes, harvest means work, but it’s easier work, even sometimes called joyous.  And that’s because it’s quantifiable, it’s clear what to do, it’s all in front of you, squarely and beautifully.   Indeed, even before you set about the harvest work, something, actually the main thing, is already complete.  And then there’s the barn dance afterward…

But who’s ever heard of “Tilling Parties”?  Or “Diagramming Sentences Parties?”  “Cold Call Parties?”  No, we celebrate visions and then the realization of those visions, but look around that cold early April morning after a long winter and see if confetti drops when you’re gassing up the rototiller.

Yeah, we’ll come to the party to celebrate your newly conferred academic degree.  But we’ll arrive there with no knowledge of (and no interest in) those long nights when the thoughts didn’t flow, when you hit research walls that well nigh crushed you, when you suffered alone.

We’ll know nothing of those tiny moments (when truthfully we were already abed) when you decided: put your head down, locked your jaw, pressed on.  When you toiled at dusk as we played Plants vs. Zombies.  When Saturday mid-morning you opened your thesaurus for the 1000th time.  And we headed out to the mall.

But at the end.  The end!  You’ll have bread.  And we’ll have your party cake.  The point is: tilling is hard and there is a good place beyond the tilling.


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