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Posts Tagged ‘Wheat harvest’

“Ghosts Of The Wheat Harvest.” A man decides to explore his dead father’s pain, in order to resolve a relationship which still bothers him. He decides to work the wheat harvest to walk in his father’s shoes.

Published in Life As A Human.

Photo credit:

“The Wheat Harvest” the slowlane @ flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.

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Note: This was written in June 1992, Brandon, Colorado.  I was working on a wheat harvest crew to Explore my Dad’s story – to “walk in his shoes”, if you will.  This was an allegory about my experience, that helped me see what was going on.  My old boots, like the ones my Dad wore, had physically worn out, and I needed to buy new ones.

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Once upon a time a Young Warrior was commanded by his King to go on a Vision Quest, to see what he could see, to learn new truths and see reality more clearly.  The King was concerned because the Young Warrior, though a very brave and fine lad, knew not of his own strengths and powers.  The King felt that by venturing out on his own, the Young Warrior would discover his true self, and be better able to undertake some very bold adventures the King had in mind for him.

But the Young Warrior could not see himself as he really was because he was trying to follow in his Father’s footsteps, to gain his Father’s approval.  He did not feel he had measured up in his Father’s eyes, and this was the cause of his blindness about himself.

So when the Young Warrior prepared for his Vision Quest, he thought to himself that it would be a fine thing to follow the path that his Father had taken many years before in his own Vision Quest.  With that end in mind, he decided to wear the boots that he had acquired many years before, boots that were the same style as the ones his Father had worn.  The boots were now quite old, and since he had first gotten them, had never fit properly, being too loose fitting.  They were of heavy construction, with steel in the toes, and not really very comfortable.

But he wore them anyway, on the first phase of his Vision Quest.  As he turned toward home he noticed a nail that protruded through the sole and pricked his heel.  He took tools and pushed the nail down, but it kept popping up and bothering him.  The boots had grown quite worn from the heavy use during his Quest.  So he put them in the closet for the winter, as he meditated upon what he had learned on his journey.

It had been a very long and tiring road for the Young Warrior, and to the King it was evident that the lad had claimed his true self, but the young man saw it not.  The King, being old and wise, knew this was possible, and so had prepared the lad to take the trail once again, to let the lesson sink in.  The King also knew of the strength of the expectations in the young man’s mind that he must live up to his Father’s standards.  The King had also watched the Father’s Vision Quest, and knew that the young man had the ability to far transcend what his Father had accomplished.  But to do this the Young Warrior would have to lift his eyes from his Father’s path and seek his own way.  So the King’s preparation in sending the Young Warrior out a second time was fitting and wise, thought the young lad could not see it, and did not understand the need for a second Quest.

As the young man once again prepared to go out, he knew that the previous year’s journey had changed him in some fashion, but he could not see what had occurred, because the road had been too tiring.

The young man felt it was time to let go of the old boots and purchase some new ones, but he was not quite ready to do so, for some reason he could not quite explain to himself.  So he went to a cobbler and had the heels repaired, to mend the nail that had kept pricking his heel.  The cobbler assured him that the problem was solved.

As the young man ventured back out onto the trail of a year ago, he was startled to see how bold his previous venture had been, and how brave and fine a lad he truly was.  This was as the King had intended, and upon hearing reports of the Young Warrior, he was well pleased.

After a short time the young man also saw how different was his path from that of his Father.  He could not explain how he knew this, but it was so.  He grew more and more confident in his steps, and began to fully feel the powers he had been given, but which had lain dormant while his eyes were fixed upon his Father.

About this time the cobbler’s work failed.  Several nails started popping up and pricking his heel, and try as he would, he could not fix them.  He grew frustrated because the cobbler was now many miles away to the South.  The Young Warrior grew dissatisfied with the boots that were like his Father’s.  They were still heavy and cumbersome, fit poorly, and of course, there were the nails.

So one day, being close to another cobbler’s shop, he ventured in, and saw a new pair of boots which he liked greatly.  The were lightweight, of newer and improved construction, they fit his feet well, and were just the right type for the path he walked.  He purchased them.

Like a flash of lightning, as he put on the new boots and put the old ones back in acorner out of the way, it came to him that he had worn the old boots to be like his Father, but that they did not fit and did not suit because he was different from his Father.

At that moment, he truly became the Bold Warrior, and struck out on the Vision Quest path to see what he could see, not to see what his Father had seen.  The new boots became the symbol of the new man that the Young Warrior had become, and he knew he was comfortable with the change, and felt ready for the bold adventures he sensed the King had been preparing him for.

The Young Warrior felt grateful for the wisdom and insight of the King, and turning to look back at the old boots and bid them goodbye, he set out on his true path.

Photo Credit:

“Work boot” by Bigbadvoo @ flickr.com.  Creative Commons.  Some rights reserved.

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In August 1991 I visited the Dances With Wolves film site. How I ended up there was as interesting as being there.

In 1987 my Dad died, and it hit me hard. My first published book, Freedom’s Just Another Word, chronicles the events around the time he passed away, because it was such a critical time for me. Several years later, I became very curious about a certain time in his life. When his drinking hit bottom, I was 17 years old, and we were living in Oklahoma City. My aunt and uncle came and got my Mom, sisters and I, and we went back to Fort Worth to stay with my grandmother. My Dad disappeared for a while, and I realized many years later, I never thought I would see him again – I thought he would die from his drinking. The rumor was that he had gone and worked the wheat harvest, which he had done in college one summer. My Mom said he had told her something about having a spiritual awakening during that time. He returned to Fort Worth, sobered up and began quietly reclaiming everything he had lost, including his family. He never talked about that time, and I never knew what happened. Then he died.

I realized in around the fall of 1990, that I wanted to explore what I thought might have happened to him. I wrote the first two chapters of a novel, and suddenly realized two things: first, I had a powerful story here. I could feel it. And second, this was a story of hope, which was the theme I had wanted to explore for several years. I sat with that awareness for a while, and mentioned it to my creative buddies. During that same time, I had started getting together with a couple of friends to explore our visions, dreams, and destinies. They were in support of the concept, but for me there was a missing piece.

“Someday, if I’m ever going to fully write this book, I’m going to have to go on the wheat harvest, to be able to describe that part of the story well. I think it will also help me figure out what had happened.” One of my friends told me later that he waited until I had made similar statements 3 or 4 times, but then he quietly mentioned one night at dinner “Dan, someday, if you ever want to go work on the wheat harvest to finish your book, I have relatives in Oklahoma who work the harvest every year. I could probably get you on with them.” I did a huge mental gulp at hearing that, and reacted like I usually do when I’m in shock, and sat there with a stunned look on my face, saying nothing. I thought about that for a long time, because I felt like the spiritual ante had been greatly upped on this whole book project!

The whole thing just took on a life of its own, and by May of 1991 I was living in a trailer with 6 farm kids in southwest Oklahoma, learning to drive a grain truck. (I do want to mention here that I am planning a book entitled “Then I Went to Find My Father” about the whole experience of me ending up on harvest. So if I compress some details here, I’ll pick them up there.) We heard all summer about how our trip would take us to Sturgis, South Dakota by August, and we’d be not far from the area where the movie Dances With Wolves was filmed. Of course, I thought – that would fit right in with the amazing summer I was having, following in my father’s footsteps and finding out where he had gone, and what he had gone through.

I remember vividly being on a dirt road north from Rapid City, driving a huge grain truck, pulling a trailer with a combine on the back of it, my fears of driving such a rig many miles to the south, now in a comfort zone and able to look around and enjoy myself. We came to a T intersection, where we were to turn left to go over to Sturgis, and the landscape looked incredibly familiar. When we got to Sturgis, I found out I had been looking down over the valley where they had filmed the Indian village scenes from the movie. Of course!

About a week later, after rains had stopped the cutting for a while, I got to go to the film site! The movie had affected me powerfully, all about finding your true self, and getting outside who you thought you were. I had seen it several times in the fall of 1990, when I was just fleshing out the idea for the book about my Dad. So to actually be on the ground where the movie was made was like a spiritual experience, within the larger setting of a vision quest to find out about my Dad, and walk in his shoes! I savored the experience, and the effect of it stayed with me long after we had gone back south at the end of the summer. So that’s how I ended up having the picture at the top of my blog page. (The book about my Dad on harvest, entitled “Nothing Left to Lose”, had several agents interested, but I haven’t yet published it – long story, which is the topic of my next book, “And Then I Stop.” I plan to publish both books)

 

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