Farming is very existential.

Today, we put down one of our bloodhounds and we welcomed 60 new baby chickens into the world.  Yes farming is very existential.

Existentialism is the idea that there are inescapable elements of human existence such as isolation, powerlessness, responsibility and death.  These realities are things that we don’t want to face.  We ignore the realities, lose ourselves in activities that make us forget reality and do whatever it takes to defend ourselves from acknowledging the truths of existence.  Many of the issues people face are due to existential truths rather than what we therapists call the presenting problem.  For example:

Loving involves pain

Life choices have consequences

We can’t stop the people we love from making mistakes or suffering

Life involves loss

Farmlife requires you to go through an existential crisis–a moment when you are required to question the very foundation of your existence, whether your life has meaning, and to acknowledge that life is full of pain and ends in death.  Farmlife constantly shows you how easy it is to lose a life and many times you, the farmer, are required to take life.  Maybe to have a sellable product or as an act of compassion to a hurting animal.  The worst moment I have had as a farmer is having to take the life of cute, fluffy newborn chicks who are born with a deformity such as a twisted beak.  The chick itself is healthy, but will slowly starve to death over a number of days because it can’t eat.  I am responsible for the life of this animal and therefore I am also responsible for the death of the animal.  I can either run away or I can step up and deal with my own emotional pain.  This is the existential crisis.

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Existentialism states that if you can successfully go through an existential crisis, if you can face your own mortality and helplessness and still find meaning and value in your life, that you will come through this crisis a stronger, healthier and happier person.  A person who no longer lives their life in fear and shame

“Man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards.”–Sartre