by H.O. Coffey
Occasionally I hear an expression that I know instinctively originated deep within the innermost self. For example: “I’m closest to God when I’m closest to the soil. I tell my wife that I want to die in the field. I want to be riding the tractor on a hot day when a dizziness begins to come over me – and I hope it’s near the spring so I can have one last drink of the best water on earth. I’ll stop the tractor, climb down off the seat, and sit down on the shady side in the cool, fresh dirt. And I’ll lie down and there they’ll find me.”
The foregoing is from the lips of a grand old farmer in South Georgia. True, he hasn’t too much time left to ride the tractor over the soil he says is “closest to God,” but he’ll go right on in hope that the final summons will come as he wishes. I wish it for him.
Simplicity and beauty seem to dominate the life of men like this. They must or else he wouldn’t “feel” as he does. As he goes about his daily tasks I’m convinced that he is utterly content with “the sky for his roof, the open country for four walls, and the good earth for his floor.” I try never to envy another’s privilege or good fortune, but somehow I think a man like this would appreciate another’s envy though it’s not envy in the literal sense. It is more like saying, “I’d like to share with you this daily communion.”
Maybe, many years ago, I felt a bit of romance in the mere mention of the word journalism and all that it implies and embodies. Perhaps it is romance under another name that keeps me plugging at the game. But, I wouldn’t be content doing anything else, even though many other professions are much more remunerative. I’d prefer to eke out a mere pittance if it had to be so, to keep body and soul together, and be happy inside, than to be doing something that missed happiness but brought instead a bloated bank account. I’ll take the happiness every time in a choice like this.
I happen to know that our farmer friend has amassed little in worldly goods, yet he’s richer by far than he who measures his fortune by greenbacks and silver alone.