I’m in Cornwall at the moment and yesterday I made a trip to see my friend and former land girl Sheila. I’m so inspired by her, she recently featured in my newsletter. She is 90 years old and doesn’t look a day over 70. We walked to the pub for dinner and it was hard to keep up with her pace!
I could talk to Sheila for hours, she really is a testament to healthy living. We were talking about life in the WLA and contrary to that which is depicted in popular movies, she told me – ‘ they didn’t have good looking farmers like they do in the movies!’ and ‘pretty dresses were not worn to the local dances’. We do tend to romance about the era, I know I am the worst at that. However one thing that really came across talking to Sheila and the other land girls I’ve met, is that the years spent as a land girl were amongst the best they have ever had.
Early starts, hard grafting, painful blisters, all weather work come rain or shine – what’s to like?! I put the question to Sheila last night and she told me she thinks the joy comes from; the satisfaction of completing a task, really mastering a skill (such as milking in her case), reaping the fruits of your labour, seeing something through from start to finish and of course being outside close to nature and physically exerting yourself.
Now that’s really interesting because apply that to the kind of jobs we’re in now. Those of us who have worked or work in office jobs – how many times a day do you see something through from start to finish? Instead we seem to be bombarded with more ‘to dos’ – emails, meetings, phone calls – we don’t really achieve much in the greater scheme of things (or maybe I’m just speaking for myself there?!)
I could really relate to what Sheila said. The years I spent working outdoors on a vineyard were also arguably the best in my life; I wasn’t being challenged intellectually and the financial reward was definitely not worth writing home about. Yet there I was outside in the cold or wet having cycled 8 miles on mountainous terrain to get there, but still with a beaming smile on my face. Why? Because there’s something about being so at one with nature on a daily basis that strips us completely bare of all that is unnecessary and as a result you feel lighter, freer and oh so very present. Nature has a way of sorting out the wheat from the chaff, what’s really important and what’s not, suddenly life becomes less about wanting and needing and more about just simply being.
…surely that is the essence of happiness?
Well I know who I’m going to believe!