As a huge college football fan, particularly the SEC, I love watching the “SEC Storied” documentary series, launched by ESPN films in September 2011. Being a college football fan in the off-season is difficult, so I look for anything related to football to fill the gap until the upcoming games begin.
I was thrilled to discover the “SEC Storied” series, which reveals a real behind-the-scenes look at the lives of athletes, both on and off the field. Many of the episodes feature SEC football players.
One of my favorites is titled “The Book of Manning,” which provides an in-depth look into the Manning football dynasty. From the outside looking in, the family appears to live in a fantastical world where the sun shines everyday and everything seems to always go their way.
And, for the most part, it does. However, as the documentary divulges, even the Manning family has experienced tragedy, setbacks and disappointments just like the rest of us human beings. What keeps them going is perseverance and hard work.
At one point the program, Archie Manning, the patriarch of the family, admits that they have to pinch themselves at times to make sure they are real. Toward the end of the episode after some of the family’s challenging times have been shared with the viewing audience, he goes on to say, “Life has been good but not easy.”
This statement reminded me of many rice farmers I have had the pleasure of knowing. Many have said that people who don’t do what they do think that farmers “have it made, work a few months during the year in the beautiful outdoors and don’t have a care in the world.”
If you are a farmer, you know that this does not begin to tell the whole story, the real story. You work hard, often under stressful conditions over which you have no control. You work long hours away from your family, no nine to five when it comes to running a farming operation. However, in the long run, most farmers will quickly say that theirs is a good life, one that they would not trade for anything.
Archie says that his dad once told him, “I just want you to be a good guy.” Then Archie notes, “That’s what I hope I have done for my children.”
To put that thought into an agricultural setting, we might alter the quote a bit to say, “I just want you to be a good guy and a good farmer and good steward of the land.” And, in response, I think most farmers would say, “That’s what I hope I have done with my life.”
At the end of the day, however late it is when your day ends, I believe it is accurate to say that the farming life is good, but it’s not always easy. Persevere, work hard and never have any regrets about the profession – the life path – that you have chosen for your own.
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