How Dreams Really Do Come True
JUDITH ACOSTA | HUFFINGTONPOST.COM
I’VE dreamt about farming all my life. You wouldn’t know it by the way I live, but it’s true. Somehow over all these years, my dreams and my realities have been separate by an inexplicable chasm.
I think for most people it is the same, or at least similar in essence. We dream or plan or talk more than we do. We blame our unrealized dreams on circumstance, other people, lack of support, money. Sometimes we call it luck — good or bad. And I think some of you already know that I think luck (however we define that) is a bigger factor than most of us care to admit.
But the other day I met a woman who really did it — who turned a whimsical idea into a reality in a big way and it made me start to wonder a bit about what really kept me from doing what she did. It wasn’t for lack of capacity or cognitive muscle. I could “visualize” as well as anyone. So, what was it? I met her via the Internet. We just moved into a rural area and we were looking for someone local to supply grass-fed beef. We found a few local people, but were most attracted to a small place called Brykill Farm.
After a few rounds of phone tag, I finally got to talk to the owner and manager of the farm, Susan. “Come on down,” she said as if she were inviting us for a picnic.
We turned onto her road, a winding dirt and gravel mix that crossed over a small river and led us through a dark thicket of oak, maple and birch after which it burst open onto pastures as broad and green as Ireland itself, each hill studded with what had to be the happiest cows on the planet. In a whispering huddle to the side were three or four iconic stone buildings from the 1700s.
We wandered around with a cattle dog trailing behind us for a few minutes, unsure which door to knock on when a woman came out, barefoot, smiling, a youngster trailing behind her. She looked to be in her 40s, but her manner was youthful and energetic.
We were escorted inside to a kitchen that was clearly the heart of the house, filled with books, cups and flowers. We chit-chatted a bit until I couldn’t resist and asked her, “Who started this?” She said, as matter of fact as telling me the time, “I did.” I looked at her. Her hands were of average size, her face still unlined, her posture relaxed but straight. A cattle farmer? I had to know more. She was living the life I had told myself I always wanted to live, but this, that and the other thing had stopped me somehow.
She was born in Connecticut and in her 20s, around the time that my friends and I were consumed with going out dancing, she invested in land. It was her idea. She was not married. She had no backers. She had no training.
Then she bought a couple of cows. Her friends thought it was “cool” and she eventually slaughtered those cows and bought more. Then she got a bull and the farm began in earnest.
How did that happen? How did she do what seemed so insurmountable to me? It wasn’t some outrageous fortune, no Mega-Lotto win. I don’t believe it had anything to do with any universal “secrets.” It wasn’t the forceful hand of fate... she hadn’t inherited a farm she didn’t want or become indentured through familial obligation.
It seemed to be as simple as a decision. To be more accurate, a series of small, but decisive ones.
The power of thought or the punch of will? In recent years, Descartes’ axiom — I think therefore I am — has been transposed, sharpened to an unprecedented perversion: I think therefore I have. Or the newest interpretation of the American Gospel: I think therefore I deserve to have.
Our lives can be perfect, abundant, sublime..
if only we think it so.
Was this what had taken place for Susan? Was it only a matter of thought? Was her belief what propelled her? There was no denying that some of her thinking predisposed her to the choices she made, but as she described it to me, this was a case of will leading the way. How else does a divorcee from Chicago wind up running a 300-year-old restoration and beef farm? It started with one book that resonated with her, “Chicken Tractor” by Joel Saladin, in which she was exposed to the idea of homesteading. (As I see it, this is the first piece of evidence that will is at work: unexpected and unconscious resonance.) As the ideas fomented in her, she stumbled onto the Brykill estate, which also appealed to her.
What was it, I asked, that was so appealing? “It was going to take a tremendous amount of work to rehabilitate it and I would be able to just plunge into a project.”