I just got back from my second annual trip to the Hartford Fair, where I witnessed some of the best up-close (and I mean UP CLOSE) tractor pulling action there is to see. I literally could not stop grinning. It was almost embarrassing. Tractor pulling is simply an awesome sport. I’m quite sure of it. Unfortunately, I left the fair not so sure of many other things. Just like last year, as the tractor pull waned, I wondered how I got where I am today.
Unless something unexpected happens overnight, my butt will spend the day tomorrow parked where it sits every other weekday — this is, in front of a computer. I don’t hate computers, mind you. (Okay, actually, I do hate computers. But I don’t really hate them.) But I never in my life thought that’s what I would spend each day looking at. I work for a local advertising firm where I spend most of my time building Web sites. Or more like pieces of Web sites. Everything is done via assembly line in America, don’t you know? I’m actually quite good at my job. In fact, I may be one of the best in the city. And most of the time, I really like it. But not in a million years would I have picked this as my career, were I actually asked. You know why? I fit there like a square peg in a round hole.
The object of an advertising firm, if you were wondering, is to get people to buy things. I, on the other hand, do my best to talk people out of buying things. Why in the world would someone get a new car when their old one can be fixed up? Why build a new house when a pre-existing one can be bought for a fraction of the price? What’s wrong with your old clothes? Why in the world must you eat out every single day? You get the drift.
My work location is all wrong, too. I spend most of each day sitting in a semi-ergonomic desk chair. While this may be good for my back, I would trade my chair in half a second for a window. Or better still, a job where I could work outside — at least sometimes. And as much as I like the city for shopping and entertainment, it wouldn’t bother me in the least if I never worked there again.
So how did I get here? It’s a long story that I’ll not go into right now. But I do know it. What I don’t know is what I was thinking when I made some of the decisions that took me here.
When I’m in the midst of a tractor pull, everything seems clear. I should be working with tractors. Not necessarily pulling tractors, mind you. But I would absolutely love to know how to build one. I wish I knew how to tear down and rebuild a turbocharged diesel engine. It would be so great to really know how to weld. I’d like to be able to restore an old tractor all by myself. And I’d be happier than a pig in slop if I got to drive one every day.
I used to think that I wanted to farm. Maybe I still do. But I’ve come to realize that a lot of my desire to farm is brought on by the tractors. I wish I’d recognized this fifteen or twenty years ago. Back then, I could have formulated a plan to get me in the driver’s seat. But now, I don’t even know if it’s possible, let alone how I might go about getting there. Even if I knew how, I’m not sure I’m willing to make the sacrifices it would take at this point in my life.
I truly enjoyed the tractor pull tonight. Just walking around the fair was fun enough to make it worthwhile. Why? There were tractors everywhere. (And corn dogs.) It was a rare night out all by myself. And that’s fitting too, because no one else I know feels the way I do about tractors. Maybe I’m really onto something, or maybe it’s just the nostalgia factor that so often strikes me at a fair. But on the way home tonight, I somehow managed to get lost. After driving in uncertainty for a while, I finally did make it home. But I took a well-traveled highway, not the back county roads that I’d hoped to drive."