“This sucks.” How many times have you said those words these past few days? Be honest with yourself. Granted, it might have not been those exact words, but something along the lines of “This isn’t good”. You’re not alone. For the first time in a long time, we have a subject that is wreaking havoc in everyone’s life. I mean everyone. People down the street, people in the next state over, even people on the other side of the globe are sharing your struggles, but I’m talking to you. The person who went to the grocery store because they didn’t believe it was really that bad, but it was really that bad. I’m sorry that event you’ve looked forward to for so long is now cancelled or postponed. I truly empathize with your now “all for nothing” mentality to see friends, family, or even some sunlight these days.
We have never seen anything like this, at least not in our lifetime. We’ve all heard stories about The Blizzard of ’78. (If you haven’t, now is a great time to call someone over the age of 45 and ask them about it.) My dad told me stories of how school was out for five weeks and they would climb to the second story of a barn just using the snow drifts. While I’ll be the first to admit that is pretty hardcore, we are on the brink of something worse. Most students today are facing seven or eight weeks away from school with important events getting cancelled daily, but I’m not telling you any breaking news or things you haven’t heard. You’ve likely spent the past few weeks at home because school is cancelled, or work has shut down which has given you the chance to truly understand what “binge-watching” means.
Maybe work isn’t shut down and you have a shift today, or cattle to feed, or tests to run. If that’s the case, be safe. Thank you for what you do. It must be important if it hasn’t stopped operating. Just recently the Department of Homeland Security deemed “Food and Agriculture” one of only 16 critical infrastructures America has during the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s take a second and be proud of that. Hearing that statement drowns out all of the negative media that is directed at agriculture these days. Now, we can brag that it’s a government statistic that agriculturists are critical to this country! We may be thinking “Yes, of course we are critical. Everyone has to eat. We know this Nate,” but it is my strongest opinion that we are critical for more reasons than the obvious. There is one thing rural America thrives on - Resiliency.
Rural Americans are some of the most passionately resilient folks I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. To be resilient is to bounce back from hard times. I’ve watched communities brace the waves of hardship many times before. Where else does the rain decide what profit margins look like? Who else relies on the unpredictable factors such as weather, health, the grain market, and much more? Our current struggle in America reminds me of a time I watched a whole community recover from difficulties.
Tragedy struck in October 2017 when a local, well-respected farmer in my small Decatur County community suffered some serious injuries after falling off a fuel tank. He was left in a tough situation with 210 acres of corn still left to harvest. That’s when nothing short of a miracle happened. Within one day, our community had coordinated 50 people, four combines, and as many grain trucks as necessary to help harvest the last bit of corn. That is resiliency.
America shows resiliency on a daily basis, and we have been for quite some time. My peers and I were born into a country showing us what true resiliency can be. The 9/11 terrorist attacks plagued this nation with fear and anxiety, yet 18 years later we stand stronger and more prepared. So why let this pandemic be treated any differently? We can all do our part to help this country back to its feet. I know deep in my heart we can make it through anything, we just have to adjust our perspective by understanding what we can control.
Earlier I mentioned “this sucks” and I meant it. In no way, shape, or form am I about to belittle the hardships we’re all facing right now. What I will do is say it is out of our control. We can’t control the cancellations, restrictions, and postponements. We can’t control our broadband reliability or our inclination to go hang out with friends. Frankly, we can’t control the scary feeling of not knowing what is next.
While this is an absolute bummer, there are a few things we can control. We can control the spread of the virus by practicing healthy habits and social distancing. We can control our own health by avoiding touching surfaces and washing our hands as much as possible. We can control the creative things we do with this amazing device we are using to read this very blog. Did you know a smart phone has 100,000 times more processing power than the Apollo 11 Guidance System? Purdue Alumni, Neil Armstrong, made it to the moon with that guidance system. Imagine the positive impact you can make with a smartphone in your hand.
With that said, I will end this blog on the most positive note I can. We have all seen the wonderful TV show Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. (If you haven’t, now is a great time to call someone under the age of 25 and ask them about it.) I would like to present Nate’s Declassified COVID-19 Survival Guide, where I share some tips on fighting cabin fever!
Always practice a safe sneeze!
Tip #1: Do something different every day. We know how these days can clump together, so it’s important to change it up and break the monotony. I have already fallen victim to repeating the same tasks every day at the same time. Make sure to switch it up!
Tip #2: Follow along with Indiana FFA’s #ForgeThroughTheFire. I may be biased by saying it is one of the best social media campaigns happening right now. It gives each of us the chance to share our story every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday across our personal social media!
Tip #3: Indiana is home to 25 state parks and 3 national parks. I mean this nicely when I say it: Take a hike! Get out in nature. Hiking has been proven to lower your risk of heart disease and strengthen your bones. If not at a state park, at least get outdoors. Maybe even with a dog or a horse.
Riding horses (or mules) is good safe fun
Tip #4: Call anyone and everyone. I’m sure we want to get in our cars and go hang out with people like nothing has changed, but things are a little different and we have to adapt. A quick call to some family, or a Facetime to some friends is one way to fill the gap of social distance that comes with doing our part. You’d be surprised at the number of apps that let you share a face to face video call.
Facetiming my pal Vic, even though I’d rather go see him
Tip #5: Only worry about what you can control. The next few weeks will surely hold uncertainty and maybe restrictions with which we don’t agree. It’s always good to step back and ask yourself “Can anything I say or do change this situation?” Odds are the answer will be “no” and you can go back to enjoying what you can control, instead of worrying about what you can’t control.
How will you decide to face adversity during these hard times? Will you let it tear you down or will you face it head on with resiliency? We can do many things; some are good, and some are bad. We can complain, mope around, become frustrated at things out of our control, or we can be resilient by adapting when plans don’t go our way. We can be resilient in our work, social lives, and everywhere else we feel affected. I hope we find the time today to adjust our perspective and be resilient during these tough times.
Keep your stick on the ice,