A view from a Costa Rican Farmer
By Ed A Human
“Covid19, coronavirus, health threat, public health emergency, pandemic, plague…”
These are the words that were used to describe this time in which we are living.
We , billions of us, live in quarantine. Here, in Costa Rica we remain in “lock down.”
A Farmer’s view
My experience of this is somewhat different than that of almost every one I know. I say this because all my friends and loved ones live in cities. I live in the mountains of Costa Rica. The green forested hills are my environment. The creeks and woods, the wildlife, the blue sky and the good soil are my quarantine. Although I have a house and have spent many a day indoors, I am granted the gift of nature daily. Because I am a farmer, my work is essential during this time and so I can be outside, doing what I love, growing food for myself and my neighbors. Currently there is no market, so what I grow is given to neighbors who can’t get to town because the bus lines have been discontinued until government directive.
So, my experience of the quarantine is no different than my usual day. My nights are essentially unchanged, yet social media reveals the powerful difference taking place in the world.
I can see that Social distancing has made social media a lifeline for many. My friends in New York City, Miami, Amsterdam, London, Dhaka, Paris, Madrid, Zurich, Kansas City, Albuquerque, Lausanne, Posznan–these friends are caged. Mostly caution and fear keep them indoors, but the fear is not as bad as the uncertainty. How will this change everything that came before? Will we become accustomed to not going to work? Not living with money as primary focus? And may we ask, how will we survive?
Awakening compassion and connection
I feel deeply for all my fellow humans. Plagues are an unpleasant fact of civilization, but they do come to an end.
It is this ending, the after part, the unknown to come, that scares my friends and loved ones. I feel this. My wife and I had long ago asked ourselves how we wanted to live. Having sufficient means through savings, we were presented with an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong quest; to farm. To be, as Carla always said, “as close as we can be to the plough”. Costa Rica became our chosen place to live.
Farming as a way of life
Farming became our way of life. In the first years I kept a blog about it. I had grown up in cities and all this was new and needed to be recorded. Gardening was a dream, coffee growing a marvelous adventure. But as time went on, the special became the mundane and quotidian. We became farmers and as we grew and sold food, we enjoyed the abundance of the earth. We had so much that we gave it away! We saw firsthand how this honest life of hard work and community was so fitting for humans. What you see most at a farmer’s market? Smiles.
Smiles, glad hearts, amity, hope and understanding. These are some of the qualities that define my community.
For the farmers specifically, it is these qualities, that get us through hard times. Times of skinny cows, no money, not knowing what will happen next, while all the responsibilities continue. I can imagine how unsettling it is to not know from where your next meal will come, especially if you have family.
I know about times of uncertainty. I no longer have Carla by my side. She passed away from leukemia and the grief was nearly fatal. I had no idea where my next day would come from. How would I survive without the reliability of her companionship? Income? How to pay the remaining mortgage? Could I still even find the desire to live? Would I be able to keep giving when I felt so empty? And finally, how was I to survive emotionally when all others had melted away into their own grief…quarantined by death.
What can we gain here?
I came to this pandemic unaware of how well prepared I was. The loss of life we face now as a species, the deaths of so many of “our kind”, our loved ones, I have faced in recent times. The uncertainty we all face now, the questions I feared to ask and had to resolve. I am seasoned in these.
So what do I have to say to us all? I say that it’ll be alright. No matter if we lose a loved one in this plague, even if we don’t have a job or guarantees of income, even if the nights are fearful and the days anxious and suffocating…this too shall pass. And since it will, we would be wise to use this moment, dark and foreboding, to ask ourselves what really matters.
In the mess that life can become, we have time to see ourselves anew. Perhaps we can chose to dress ourselves in garments we have not worn before but only imagined. We can chose to live gratefully, even if we have to do without all the stuff to which we have grown accustomed and addicted.
In this quarantine of bodies, there is the germination of something special. Never before in history has such an event like this taken place. An industrial economy , world financial system and authority of governments worldwide have been stopped. Dead stop. Death has come to make us think about life.
If we are brave, we can be powerful agents of change. If we are willing to eat less, have less, expect less of this materialist culture, we can actually be the people creating the change we wish to see. If we love this planet, if each of us dares to be intrepid, we can have the world we imagine.
Now is the time! Take the challenge! Change your world and help to change our world in the process. It is time to awaken to all that we can be. There will never be another opportunity like this. Ever.