Thursday, June 5, 2014


One of the best things about working the land is that it gives you time to think.  Most of my chores around here do not involve any higher-level thinking activities, which leaves my brain free to ponder whatever it desires as I dig, churn, stir, walk or pick.

Something that occurred to me today is that there are a few things I'm "flinchy" about, meaning I flinch, emotionally, sometimes when thinking about them. Flinchy is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Lite ...  it's not traumatic enough that you can truly make the PTSD claim, but it's something that messed with your head nonetheless.

I have found, for instance, that I am flinchy about bosses, which may be why I love being my own boss as I work on our property.  I had a couple of truly terrible bosses in my past, and they've left me in the position of being at work sometimes and wondering when the other shoe is going to drop, and it's all going to go to hell.  

Petty tyrants left in charge of staffs of people will do a lot of similar things.  I've experienced all of them in my working life -- for brief periods -- before I (and in most cases my fellow co-workers) would inevitably make for the higher, saner ground of a new job.

There were Ridiculous Rules.  There were Reprimands for Things Beyond My Control.  There were Threats of Dismissal, Unrealistic Expectations, Useless Paperwork, and Morale-busting Decrees.

In my current job at the winery, I have no such issues.  The winery is, as the kids who work there like to say, a very "chill" place.  There are no demagogues, no bureaucrats, no politics, and no ridiculous decrees. The owner came from a corporate environment and seems to have figured out that if you give people what they need to do their jobs and give them encouragement, they will give you 120 percent and do it quite happily.  

But this does not stop me from occasionally worrying that I'm going to be called on the carpet for absolutely no reason other than the fact that it's a Tuesday and my boss hates Tuesdays.  Because I'm flinchy, you see.

I am also this way about friends.  I had a best friend dump me unceremoniously and suddenly about 20 years ago, and I carried the scars with me for a long time (perhaps even into present day).  Mainly, I sometimes manifest an uncertainly about making female friends, thinking they will, at some point, send me a letter telling me exactly what they think is right about their life and wrong with mine, and tell me they never want to speak to me again.

What happened with my ex-friend was a freak occurrence, having far more to do with her than me, and it never happened before or after that, with any friend. We've even since gotten back into contact and made some rudimentary stabs at re-friending each other, although there are walls up on my end that will probably not be completely surmountable (and maybe that's a good thing). Yet, even with friends I trust, I occasionally still find myself evaluating my behavior and asking myself if some decision I made about my work or personal life might render me unfit to be someone's friend.  

We all have some areas of life we are flinchy about, based on our past experiences.  Time on the homestead provides a wonderful opportunity to ponder these questions as one digs the pumpkin patch, churns a batch of soap, and picks the berries. 

For me, it also offers a literal point, standing on the physical terra firma, where I can take out my flinchy points, examine them, and remind myself they are in my past, and the ground beneath my feet is my present. As are the pumpkins, soap and berries in my hands.  They are real in a way the flinchy thoughts are not, and they ground me in physical reality, instead of the emotional traumas of the past.

When they say the land can heal you, that's no lie.


  1. I am literally (as in literally, not the modern figurative "literally") a flincher too. Sometimes out of the blue, I will feel some rogue electrical current from another time and actually flinch with it. Sometimes it's triggered by a memory or an association, but often it just shows up. I wonder if it has to do with the fact that you and I are both "self-processing introspectives". As in we each tend to hammer things out in our own head rather than always talk it out. I could be wrong though. I actually just cut off a friend of about ten years a few weeks ago. But that's because of her drug problem, which I doubt was the case with your friend! I'm glad to be commenting on your blog phone was having an issue with not loading your blog recently. It kept saying 404 error.

  2. Oh, the dreaded 404 error. I still don't know what it means, except for frustration! I missed seeing you around, and am glad you're back! Yes, I think we're both self-processing, that's a good term for it. Experiences happen, we examine them, and we learn internal lessons from it. But yes, maybe that is what makes us flinchy...those memories are stored in very secure places and therefore don't degrade over time, because they were/are important to us.