Life is a learning process, each day an opportunity to strive towards who we want to be in this world. Expressing love opens the doorway for the return of love, sharing the joy of happiness or the solidarity of struggle. Each day is a chance for improvement, small steps in a journey of a thousand miles.
Practice leads to intuition and understanding, like playing music and feeling the rhythm. Muscle memory is a powerful tool, as are the pathways that we carve into our psyches with our choices. With music there is the feeling of the beat, the build-up, the drop. The reciprocation of feeling that comes from playing music is one expression of human interaction-in-flow.
There are so many ways for achieving the flow-state, that point where extraneous thought ceases and something deeper takes over. There is powerful medicine in finding that state of being, and there are many ways of accessing it.
A life of farming is to repeat different series of repetitive and sometimes physically difficult tasks ad infinitum. To be happy as a farmer, you have to be able to find the flow-state within the work, dropping into muscle memory and shutting off the mind. Pulling weeds, planting starts, harvesting can all be magical experiences or total drudgery that depend on mindstate.
The monkey-mind likes to chatter and it’s so easy to get caught up in negative thought loops, recycling frustration or pettiness. It is difficult to take a step back from the output of the mind and enter the stillness, but like all things, it becomes easier with practice. When we learn to pay attention to where our flow-states can be found, we become more practiced at recognizing and being active participants.
“Don’t think, DO!” is a lesson I would like to use more. There is a time for use of the mind, during planning and preparation, during check-ins with self and others. The mind can be referenced as needed without being dominant. When we quiet the chatter, we become open to heart-truth that is always present.
Listening to the deeper currents helps us to make different decisions, to respond with our best and highest selves. How I respond when I’m well-fed, rested and not under stress is how I’d like to respond even when tough conditions arise. I want to work on acknowledging times when I don’t bring my best and highest self, and to be proactive about recognizing when I’m in that state.
When I’m playing music, I can hear if I lose the beat, if something has gone awry. It’s more than just hearing though, because I can feel the energy shift, so I listen to the people around me to sync with their playing. If we all lose the beat, we stop the song, pause, laugh, and then start again. Everything in life is energy in the form of rhythm. From the cycles of our interactions to our expression to our physical movements, all is energy.
I’ve been applying my thoughts about playing music to my process for preparing meals. Just like I can feel the changes in the rhythm, I am learning to intuit things about cooking. I make serviceable, hearty meals but I’m no culinary artist. I’ve been trying not to think about the process and just listen to the rhythm.
Part of playing in the rhythm of cooking is doing the required things in the right order so that everything flows. Chopping onions and garlic while heating the cast-iron to brown them along with the ground meat. Cutting up the other vegetables as they are needed so they’re ready to go in at the right moment. Washing up dishes and cleaning as I go so the mess is cleaned up when the meal is served.
Like anything in life, cooking can be a joy when we have time to do it and get into the flow of it. If we’re stressed, too tired, too hungry then cooking can become an impossibility. One of the big paradoxes of farming is that it’s easy to get so busy that we eat cheese and crackers for dinner because we came in too late and are too tired to cook. My goal in cooking is either to arrive fast with a meal big enough to have leftovers, or to slow-roast with very little effort.
I do a lot of roasting, big chunks of meat with loads of vegetables. I’ll braise a big chicken or pork shoulder with carrots and potatoes and we’ll get multiple meals out of it. We’ll throw in a few butternut squash to roast in a separate pyrex. Once the food has been cooked it’s super easy to reheat, stir-fry, or poach with eggs. Lots of garlic, onion and shallots along with salt and maybe a few herbs. I’m always shooting to brown or carmelize because it’s like a flavor-bonus-multiplier.
As a musician and as a cook I am a simple and serviceable participant. I have huge respect for those who have honed either art form, because I can see how much time and energy it takes to rise to that higher plane. With limited life-force energy, we each must choose where to direct it. May we all find the flow and direct our energies through heart-truth! As always, much love and great success to you on your journey!
Make sure to check out: happydayfarmscsa.com
Casey O'Neill co-operates HappyDay Farms, a micro-diversified farm in northern Mendocino County, California. His family raises two acres of Sun+Earth and DEMPure Certified vegetables, poultry and medical cannabis in a small-farm setting while working towards sustainability. Casey is stoked about sharing food, medicine and cultivation techniques with others. He is passionate about representing small farmers and works to support Mendocino County policy-makers in crafting sensible regulations. Casey also serves on the board of Sun+Earth Certified. You can find his radio show podcast at HappyDay Farms - Farm and Reefer Report on iTunes or Soundcloud. You can also find out more about HappyDay Farms here: http://www.happydayfarmscsa.com, on Instagram @happydayfarms and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/casey.oneill.395/ or https://www.facebook.com/happydayfarmscsa/