Joel and I sat at the table together peeling garlic cloves. We had put on soft music worked side by side removing the fluttery white tissue paper covering the garlic bulb to expose the cloves underneath. We were careful not to disrupt the layer of paper that resembled pencil shavings hugging the cloves themselves as we pulled each one away from the core. The wind was blowing outside and the kids were sleeping upstairs and the static of the baby monitor hushed in the background of the music and the wind and the crinkling of the garlic paper.
It felt primitive, what we were doing...taking part in something time tested and true. I wasn't mending clothing and he wasn't stoking a fire, but we were building a family life together, working to create something that we hoped would take root in the new dirt we found ourselves on.
We connected as our fingers worked. We talked about the boys, our jobs, our hopes, our sorrows. We sat nodding at each other, taking turns telling the stories on our hearts. We don't do this enough in our modern world, distracted by screens and too tired by the end of the day to start or sustain a meaningful conversation.
We are all just too busy. We, too, felt busy before moving. How boring busy is. How frustrating busy is! We had the sense that we never got anything meaningful done. And that was part of where it all started- this intentional living. We couldn't continue at that frantic pace of nothing. Now I know that it felt frantic and it felt like nothing and it felt boring and frustrating and endless because we never sat down and gave it all a purpose.
We collapsed at the end of every day and thought, what's the purpose of all this? And so we finally sat down and talked about the purpose of it all. At first we questioned, frustrated. And then we dreamed. And then we did reality checks. And then we dreamed some more, and reality checked even more. We talked about what we would regret when we were old and feeble and looking back on our lives. We talked about risk. We talked about reward, and it's many forms. And we pushed each other on each. Joel pushed, and I resisted. Then I pushed, and Joel resisted. Marriage is so much pushing. You push on opinions held, you push on dreams, you push on those famous buttons we all have, you push your partner up and up- oh if they only knew how high they could go- and then sometimes, despite yourself, you push them down. You push on yourself to show empathy and swallow your own complaints, you push yourself to do dishes when you don't want to do dishes, and you push him to take that class he would need for a promotion some day, and he pushes you to apply for that job yet again, and he pushes on you when you don't replace the toilet paper roll, and you push on him to just put the garlic in the ground because that's the plan dammit and if it rots in our dirt then we will fail it together and push on to the next thing.
Interestingly, on the farm, our time is more occupied, but we feel much less frantic. I am now more apt to think to myself how productive we are. I feel so content with how we spend our time and that shift has been so small that I can't put my finger on one thing or another. It's the combination of everything. It's walks out to the barns at night when the stars are bright and the moon is just a sliver, it's less television and more board games, it's more writing and more reading, it's early morning exercises, it's chats with the bird man that comes around to check the blue bird houses, it's family walks through the woods on weekend mornings, it's visits to the farm next door to pick up some sweet corn or just wave at the cows who trot over and blink their big soft brown eyes at us, it's pointing out tracks in the snow, or gnome homes in the stumps of old trees, and it's working on project after project here on the farm. We feel purpose at home and we feel purpose at work because we've chosen to be where we want to be and spending our time on what we've decided we want to spend our time on.
Our new busy is intentional and I suppose that's the difference.
We are still tired. At one point during our night of garlic peeling, the bucket full of peeled garlic fell to the floor and the cloves spilled out over the kitchen floor. We both looked down at it silently, following the last clove as it wobbled it's way across the floor, stopping against the edge of the living room rug. We went back to the garlic in our hands before bending to the task of scooping the cloves back into the bucket.
The garlic gave me clarity and confidence on how to live this life, at least for a night.