The Act of Doing is The Joy
Tomatoes, tomato's, whatever, we each have it in us to face the challenges.
Why is it that the things that most attract me, most promise me something worthwhile, are, in fact, the things that are the most difficult to do?
Okay, makes sense that the things that require the most from human effort are those things that will most likely draw a smile, a sense of awe and deep admiration. But not withstanding this not quite eureka moment, there seems to be something deeper to this line of thought. It is something that calls me and asks to be uncovered to some degree.
Men and women through the ages, those that stand out from every field conceivable, and that have offered something above and far beyond their fellow humans, have been studied it seems forever. And yet I still have that sense of unrest, almost a dissatisfaction, that unless I’m involved with something that requires all my thinking and doing power, I feel downright mediocre.
Sure, writing does that for me. Just look at what a writer is up against, a Great Wall of China of competition. If you choose to see it this way. Just maybe a more enlightened point of view might be I could write strictly out of self-pleasure. Not give a damn what a reader may judge, unless it’s positive.
Positive! There it is. We are driven by the need to have our fellow humans applaud us, pat us on the back, thank us for contributing in whatever meager yet significant way to the common good. Isn’t that it? Be honest here now. Of course it plays a huge part. It’s the way we’re wired. That’s relatively simple to prove, well almost.
Just go back to deep ancient days, the cavemen. Think about how the best and bravest, sure and why not, the most handsome of the clan, could somehow go out into the wild hills with his pointed stick. Three days later return dragging a fat gazelle- like creature. The gazelle feeds the starving clan; the chief hires him on as his new assistant, and is even chosen by the most stunning and amazing woman to be hers.
But it could have been luck. We’ll call him Hank, ventures out yet again and returns with another slaughtered beast ensuring every one of their protein for weeks to come. The dude is a master; he knows it and doubtlessly, just as important, his fellow cave dwellers know it. Guy’s walking on clouds!
He’s figured it out. He somehow came upon the realization while on a hunt long ago that if he just zigged instead of zagged the damn animal would practically run right over him. A kill shot was almost easy.
Needs to be said now: practice, practice, practice. The argument stands, of course, that the next person over to you may, for whatever genetic reason, hold an innate skill set which propels him or her to discovery, invention, yes, awful hard work, then greatness.
Our hunter is a screaming success. As successful and as popular as the first astronaut. ‘First’ astronaut because remember, we humans very quickly become ho hum about great stuff fellow humans do. Can you retell every manned space trip? No. Of course not. Oh, unless of course you inundate yourself with things of rocket ships and space.
Typhoid and polio vaccine, great stuff, learned it in history class. Was it Salk? Geez, has only saved like how many millions? Not to mention the miraculous, yes utter miraculous development of the Covid vaccines. That’s the other part of this observation. We get bored very quickly! If humans slow down and stop coming up with incredible discoveries or inventions, also if new writing doesn’t go way beyond, then they turn their attention elsewhere.
It’s just the way it is. Can’t really blame anyone. I suppose if you wanted to place blame on how the champions are selected, you might look to the self-established critics. Good luck! They’re everywhere. I consider myself one. Are you? But maybe I’m referring to the ones who have the power to select and place into the public eye those stellar performers for whatever meaningful accomplishment and adulation they’ve earned. This is a law. Without others placing you on a pedestal, the accomplishments go ignored.
Just think if, say Hank, our great hunter caveman went unnoticed upon returning to the community's center campfire with his gazelle was ignored!? He might even decide to blow off hunting. Of course he won’t because he loves it too much, he doesn’t give a damn what others feel, not really. He’s driven from an inner flame, he’s plugged into something. Wired into him.
What if the most desirable lady turned her back to him, some sociologist or is it anthropologists might suggest this would’ve negatively affected the natural selectivity process and there goes the human race, something like that.
Food for thought.
Going back to my first line then. Why am I so attracted to doing that which is the most difficult? Mind you, it doesn’t have to be difficult! Take the two central Illinois home gardeners. One seriously excels in their tomatoes. I actually was one of them. Guess which one, it’s okay,(you’re right, that wasn’t me). Her tomatoes win state recognition. She’s even gone on to compete nationally winning the coveted golden tomatoes trophy.
The other gardener visits his garden four important times a summer. The first to clean up last years remaining dried out greens, stirs up the soil and that same afternoon plants his already started tomatoes, radishes (which never reach maturity), cucumbers, green peppers, some kind of melon and of course ten or fifteen tomato bushes. Mind you, most of these, most importantly the tomatoes were purchased already greenhouse started.
In other words, all he has to do is stick the plants carefully and with a proper amount of concern into the black, Illinois soil. Voila! Instant garden. Sure, sure, for those of you who know he places the wire supports around the small bushes as soon they’ll be festooned with tomatoes which would destroy the plant without the additional support.
He goes out two more times to clean around the happy plants. Some of the plants, in fact, were seeds and is pleased to see that most have sprouted. Sure, he goes out with a hose to water.
The fourth and most momentous visit is discovering his work has given fruit. Bountiful tomatoes, cucumbers, both enough to fill several grocery bags over and over again for the rest of summer! No radishes. He’s already thinking about who he’ll give a big part of his bounty to. He remembers that virtually everyone, even town folk, has their own garden, with even greater varieties such as kale, caul flower and lettuce. He’s pleased nevertheless. This one summer project was made into a reality because he simply determined to do it.
Our famous tomato grower on the other side of the county is out every day, for hours, several times a day. She knows every square inch of her plot. She is shooting for another championship. She tells us, however, she is striving to create the next perfect tomato, no championship hoopla. If the local farm news columnist makes the mistake of asking her what prize she will win, he is guaranteed a swift verbal back hand.
‘It’s not about the trophy. It’s all about the motivation. The desire to make something good even better. My tomatoes not only are better in size and presentation, pest resistant and have a longer shelf life, and most importantly, offer more protein. It’s all in how I work in the calcium and the sugars, and that’s my secret!’ As if to stress her point, she adds again, ’really, it’s not about winning a prize for crying out loud.’
What motivates her? This does not say that our first tomato farmer doesn’t have his own ‘perfection pursuits’. He may be polishing off the final draft of his first romantic novel. His strong headed desire to write the next great American novel has caused his lovely wife to abandon him for another man. His forever loyal and loving beagle hasn’t left his side.
His reclusiveness wrapped up in his writing nook, hours on end, is his great expedition into the unknown. He does it, no matter the cost, though he accepts that losing his wonderful wife was easily the stupidest thing he’s ever done.
He’s since sworn to himself his next impossible endeavor will be to regain her affections. He’s even taken up boxing to fight the new guy if needed.
The question, of course, has no sure answer. Oh sure, the experts give us all sorts of learned reasons as to why some of us out create, out work, until our finger tips bleed, head screams with strain. Yet, the fact that for me anyway, the deepest sense of joy is when I’m in a groove. A groove of doing something that feeds me, creating something new.
Something about it, without a doubt, feels primordial. Reaching out curious, hopeful, tentative finger tips through the impenetrable fog and getting a tiny bit closer to touching that magic gold place.
Without a doubt that which we were born with.