Thinking Existentially vs. Retrospectively

As most teenagers do, I’ve spent a lot of my time thinking and overthinking my past experiences/interactions. Did I say the right thing? Will they think of me differently because of something I said? Is the way I handled this situation correct? For me, all of these thoughts are automatic; there is no active thought process behind getting to the point of asking myself these questions. For so much of my life, my mind had been stuck in retrospect.

Being surrounded by 21 people from such different backgrounds, ways of learning, and intellect has challenged me to reframe the ways I think. Lately, I’ve been thinking less about the specifics of how my actions impact my peers, and more of how my actions impact who I am as a person (and who I am in the world).

For example, I just spent two days volunteering on a farm. This farm, Kindness Farm, is a nonprofit organization that donates the produce they grow to underserved communities. Kindness Farm’s mission of giving everyone, no matter their financial situation, an opportunity to nourish their body with the food they eat. For hours upon hours I pulled sprouts out of the containers they were donated in, and planted them into the soil.

By the end of the two days, I had helped plant upwards of 60 spinach, arugula, and fennel plants. These tasks, although seemingly tedious, allowed me to take the time to appreciate the food I eat, learn more about where it comes from, and recognize how lucky I am to have such easy access to wonderful produce. I definitely have more of an interest in farming and the meditative energy getting your hands dirty can bring.

I took every opportunity presented to learn about Kindness Farm, urban agriculture and to just ask any question that came to me. I was so wrapped up in thinking about the way food gets from the soil to my stomach and how I could make planting my own food a part of my daily life, that the small anxieties never crossed my mind. It was so rewarding to see the starting and the finished product of what I had done and to also do some growing of my own.

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