Ben Hewitt on urgency, control, and finding oneself:
There’s something addictive about the urgency of the season. I feel it year after year after year, though perhaps it holds a somewhat finer edge this spring, simply for everything that must be done to ensure our well-being come the return of cold and snow. But still. Even the force of a typical spring and all that depends on it is enough to hold me in its sway. It is times like these that my gratitude for this life runs deepest. I am grateful for the wood to be split, for ache in my shoulders after splitting, for the fencing to be strung, for the soil to be turned, for the protective husks reforming over decades-old callouses, for the cows fat with May calves, even for the snarl of the sawmill, each board I lift from its bed another piece of the puzzle that will, when finally assembled, result in my family’s shelter.
I know it’s somewhat illusory to believe we have control over our destiny; there are simply too many forces above and beyond our control, and there are many ways in which we are reliant on these forces, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse.
But that’s ok. I don’t need to be in control. It’s enough to be participating. It’s enough to help fit the pieces of the puzzle together, to see how the whole is formed, and within it, how we come to know our place.
I admit that the phrase, “know our place”, makes me feel a little uneasy. It just seems too close to the command, “know your place”, which is often used to bludgeon people into suppressing themselves or their beliefs (opposite to its literal meaning).
That being said, it’s naturally important to discover where we fit in the scheme of things. After all, “know your place” can also be understood as related to the old dictum, “know thyself”. Learning where you fit in can inform your understanding of who you really are, and learning who you really are can suggest how you might fit in.
But over the years, I’ve come to believe that the first of the two is more effective. Simply asserting your identity can be gratifying, but it’s also very prone to error and fluctuations in mood and environment. To try things, to try a lot of things, and to try a lot of things some more — this seems a surer way to discover who you really are and where you fit in.