It has been a struggle to pick topics to write about for the past several weeks, and in my innate pursuit of perfectionism I became wrought with indecision. I could write about sustainable facilities design; I could uncover the truth about many LEED-certified buildings; I could even write about the ecology-based dormitory where I am writing this now. But among these various topics, I could not find one that I felt “good enough” to write about at this time. So to dissolve some of my indecision, I chose to reveal some of my mind’s musings, many of which the perfectionist side of me deems crazy, but day-by-day I am learning to embrace.
Each morning, I wake to the sound of my alarm clock and the chime of my smartphone being flooded with emails. A month ago I thought nothing of this activity, but lately I have found it unnerving. The annoyance I am feeling developed over my winter break.
The morning after I arrived back at my home in Texas, I wandered outside to help with the morning animal chores. As I was feeding, my six-year-old sister ran to me exclaiming that one of our new pullets was making a funny noise. With her best imitation of the chicken, she formed wings with her arms, squatted, poked out her neck, and let out a loud “croak.” I couldn’t help but laugh at her for sounding like a broken kazoo, but then I heard the chicken croak, too. My culinary mindset immediately raced to chicken vindaloo or roasted, stuffed capon—unfortunately, the fate of this male bird did not include a life with hens. Changing his name to Roaster marked a wave of changes within me.
I woke up every day to the sound of the cockerel, who began to crow at four in the morning. College life had sheltered me from this early arousal for a while, and despite the hour, I was delighted by the morning welcome of a series of broken crows. My desire for a future life involving a sustainable farm was re-ignited, and at first I scolded myself for having such erroneous thoughts. However, as the days of my break progressed and Christmas and New Year’s passed, I learned to dampen the voice of my inner critic and embrace my seemingly crazed mind.
Cornell is a stepping stone to reach my goal of working in sustainable hospitality, but I had abandoned my previous dream. Why have I dismissed a dream including a crow’s morning welcome, dirty and gratifying farm duties, interactions with local culture, and large fields of agriculture? A year ago, I saw these as mutually exclusive and I automatically postponed farming for my retirement; now, I see them as marriageable and perfectly attainable ambitions that can coexist in my life.
It seems that since I have had this revelation, I have become more aware of the union of hospitality initiatives and sustainable agriculture. Food and beverage venues either in a hotel or a restaurant are relying increasingly on local farmers or their own onsite farming practices. Vineyards and ranches are quickly becoming popular destinations for weddings and other events. The list continues, but these pairings of sustainable agriculture and hospitality told me that someone else was pursuing my dream and encouraged me to do the same.
I have come to accept many aspects of myself from this introspection. I may be long-winded, speak methodically, and prefer an adventurous excursion that includes hiking boots and nature, not high heels and shopping malls. I may have a large variety of interests, a passionate personality, and an unconventional bucket list. Regardless, I am learning to treat my thoughts and dreams kindly. I thought my dream of combining hospitality and farming was crazy and naive. With my newfound kindness, I have embraced my thoughts as beautiful and I am confident that one day I will once again awaken not to the sound of a phone but to the calls of a farm.