Optimism is a wonderful thing, but it sure is hard to come by these days. I suppose it is easy to see why the optimism tank is running on empty when we look back at 2020. What a train wreck of a year that was. I think I speak for most of us when I say that 2020 is not a year we will look back upon with undiluted pleasure.

It was a tough year for all of us. For some, it was tougher than for others. We faced challenges we have not seen in several generations, perhaps since the Great Depression. In my mind, we all deserve a round of applause simply for making it through 2020 with our sanity, although bruised, still intact.

When 2021 dawned, I had a glimmer of hope that maybe we would turn a corner. You know, the normal refrain, “New Year, new start.” Well, then six days into the New Year, that little incident at the capitol happens. So now, in some ways we are back to waking up every morning and asking “what type of fresh catastrophe awaits us today?”

I love harvest time on the farm. It is so much fun. It is the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work, and many times, worry. However, I love planting time too. There is an inherent optimism there. A clean slate. Starting anew. The hope of a bountiful harvest this fall regardless of what happened last year.

Will Rogers once said, “The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.” There’s a lot of truth there to unpack. I have always loved how farmers seem to be the eternal optimists. If not by their words then by their actions. It does not matter how bad last year was, this year is going to be better. One of my friends on social media says “I have become a next year farmer.” I think that accurately sums up the current mentality for a lot of farmers in this country.

To say farming today is different from what it was for my father and grandfather is an understatement. In their day, the harder you worked the more money you made. It was that simple. Unfortunately, that philosophy does not always hold true today. In fact it rarely does. The world is too complex and there are way too many variables out there now. Today, you may kill yourself and still not come out on top. It is a tough pill to swallow.

With everything going on today and all of the “noise” out there it can be very easy to become overwhelmed and lose every ounce of optimism you have. That can turn you into an unpleasant person—quick. It can make your life incredibly disagreeable. When you feel that starting to happen, take a step back and take a deep breath. Take stock of the positive things around you. Family, friends, etc. As scripture admonishes us, “think on these things.” No matter how bad it is, there is always something good you can focus on.

We have started a new year and hopefully it will be far better than 2020. Soon Plant2021 will be upon us. All of the optimism that accompanies the planting season will once again be upon us as well. I hope that you will get a double portion of the season’s optimism because Lord knows we could all use it. Keep your chin up out there and until next time, farm on, farm hard, and keep it in the field rows.

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