I’m attending a writing workshop this weekend. Yesterday one of the exercises resulted in some of us reading a short piece. Of course, as usual, I volunteered to read. I don’t intend to be a busy-body – it just seems natural to me, what can I say?
The assignment was to use a “found story” and write about it in the present tense, then moving into something personal in the past tense.
In the midst of accidental eavesdropping – at least that’s how I like to think of it – I am listening to a tale of woe from the Applebee’s booth behind me. The 26 year old man with the curly brown hair is lamenting the breakup of his seond marriage. His soon to be ex-wife is letting him continue to live with her and her two kids, as well as the most recent addition to the family – her lesbian lover.
He is heartbroken over the loss of his marriage, and talking about how much he loves being a husband and father. Twenty-five minutes in, his up-til-now quiet buddy says, “Jason, a man who wants to be a goat farmer oughta have either some land or some goats. You ain’t got neither one. Boy, you ain’t got nothing – no woman, no kids, no family. You better go find you a woman – one that wants a man – if you’re gonna have what you say you want.”
After I had nearly done an accidental spit-take as a result of my accidental eavesdroppping, I realized what great wisdom there was in the goat farmer analogy. Although I’ve never wanted to be a goat farmer, at one time I had wanted to be a singer. I went off to a college known for its music program, where I quickly realized my previous singing successes had been a result of the big fish/little pond phenomenon. Now I was with kids from Julliard and Eastman School of Music.
I knew ten minutes into my college career I was out of my league. But I persevered. At least for awhile. Then one day I realized I had neither the dedication nor the talent. In the band I was singing with I was one of the two people holding back the other three really talented folks. Looking back, I realize I was trying to be a goat farmer, with no land and no goats.