I have been thinking about this photo for a while. It is not in any way remarkable but at least it isn’t the cutesy farm with the red barn and white picket fence that for long were the stock in trade of greeting card companies. Of course life isn’t cutesy. I know many who would criticize the smoke bellowing into the night air of the clearly more industrial than not farm. But I’ve learned too much to think that those people are just out there abusing the land and air. Whatever is coming out of that smokestack says to me that somebody is working and working pretty late into the day. You can’t tell it from this photo but it’s a pretty cold day and that looks like a pretty big operation so I imagine that both the people who own it and the people who work there would rather be someplace else – most likely warm at home. But they’re there for some other reason.
It could just be that life is tough for them and they need the money. For all too many, life is a daily struggle. A struggle with illness, with a difficult or much more terrible an abusive loved one, with the ties that still bind many to a job to pay for the expensive house, car or kid’s college, or even a struggle when you are bound to the land while the people whose sustain you desert the towns around you.
For the very luckiest among all of those of us who inhabit this earth (i.e., those with indoor plumbing; reliable, clean water and electricity; access to safe and fast local and worldwide transportation; and, dare I say it, fast and reliable Internet access), life may still be a struggle but it is in almost every way a life of unimaginable luxury compared to the life of the most well-off of monarch’s just 200 years ago. It is funny that all of this luxury does not end the struggle for many. Nor is the lack of it as bad as one might imagine. (If you want to read something truly remarkable along these lines, read The City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre, which is about life in the Calcutta slums.) As usual, I digress ….
No matter where you fall in this world today, I hope there is some room for something that will either make your like a little easier or, if you are lucky, let you make someone else’s life a little better. It just takes just a minute to look up, down or around or inside or you and see that the world is a hearty stew to be savored even when the seasoning is sometimes bitter.