A couple days ago, I failed to notice something.
It was a beautiful morning. The cows were milked and fed, calves were curled contentedly in their straw, and the wind was moving the trees just a little too much to be a good flying day.
Before heading in for breakfast, I thought I would haul one quick load of manure. That’s where my trouble began. I hopped in the tractor, revved it up, and loaded 3,200 gallons of manure.
Things were going as well as the gingerbread man who rode on the snout of the wolf.
As my load was filled, I put the tractor in gear and I had a thought, “check the tires.”
I usually check around the machines before I use them. Just like a preflight check before I take my paramotor up for a magic carpet ride. In this case, I guess we could call it a pre-spread check because there’s nothing worse than a whole load of dripping manure weighing down a flattened tire.
I turned, leaned out to check, and there it was – complete failure. Day wrecker. The only tire I didn’t happen to see during my filling was completely flat… And the bead was broken.
Why didn’t I check before I loaded 28,000 stinking pounds on top of it?
In life, there are so many things we forget to notice. Too often, familiarity breeds a sort of blindness.
I saw this blindness while driving with my family. My kids were complaining, filling the car with loud noises and pushing each others’ buttons. So, I did an experiment. I began talking (without pause) about everything that I saw: The flying corn cob on the seed corn sign, the fluttering birch leaves, the flowing willow tree, horses grazing, giant grain bins, even a road called Honey Road!
The funniest thing happened; my kids stopped complaining, and started noticing.
Notice… What a particularly ordinary, but very important, word.
To notice means, “the fact of observing or paying attention to something.” In the land of tech and social media, we could easily spend days without observing or paying attention to anything other than our phones.
Today, my kids came walking home from reading practice with Grandma and excitedly told me about how she was waiting at the door for them, jumping up and down, hands in the air, excited to see them. I’d say that I am especially rich in the notice-er area as the aforementioned grandma is known to me as Mom. And as you’ve probably guessed, this greeting did not begin with the grandkids.
I asked my girls how that greeting made them feel. “Very special… like I was the most important thing in the world.”
I know that feeling well. Growing up on the farm, I would finish chores and head home. Without fail, when mom heard the door open, she would call from the other room, “Hello! I’m glad you’re home!”
She noticed me every time. Even those few times I tried to sneak in, her all-knowing super powers would alert her and she would call out the same greeting.
My wife must have been cut out of the same “make others feel special” cloth, because every time I step inside from a long day’s work, I hear a “hello” of welcome from the other room.
Who knew that such a simple thing could make someone feel noticed.
Back to my day I failed to notice. I got down from the tractor, kicked the tire (I heard that’s beneficial), and set out to fix it.
Things aren’t as bad once you figure out a solution.
In the meantime, let’s remember to notice things that should be noticed.
Since being a dad, I’ve decided to give my first five minutes to my family.
I heard someone say to choose a mailbox on your commute and decide that when you reach that mailbox you leave everything else behind and switch your focus to the ones you’ll find at home.
In the first five minutes, what do your voice, face, and words communicate to those who matter most?
This is for you to decide and them to remember.
You’re the only one they call parent or spouse and they’ll remember the things that you notice.
Meet your farmer – Jonathan Gerdes. He and his wife run a farm-to-table Raw Milk dairy in Caledonia, Minn. If he isn’t in the barn, you can find him dating his wife, playing with his kids, leading youth group, or flying in the sky. Visit gerdesfreshfarm.com for more info.