You’ve seen them: giant bales of hay that weigh one ton. When I take a walk, I see three such bales piled together in a large field. They’ve been there ever since the last crop of hay was cut and baled in late summer. I’ve often wondered why they were left when all of the other bales were hauled away to be stored.
I guess you could argue that these solitary bales are being stored as well. And, they are. They’re just not being stored and protected from the weather. Over the last four or five months, I’ve watched their exteriors be battered by sun, rain, wind and snow.
Such harsh conditions have turned their once green exteriors to yellow, and then to brown and black. It’s been a telling transformation. The once good harvest has turned into something less than nutritious, even repulsive.
The solitary bales’ repellant state was confirmed when sheep, turned out onto the field to graze the uncut stubble, left the bales untouched. They instinctively knew there was no value left in them. Now the sheep have moved on and the rotting bales remain.
I’ve been around hay most of my life. If these bales were to be cracked open, would there be anything sweet, green or nutritious left deep in the center, like some rescued bales I’ve encountered before? That seems to be the challenge for us as people: Can we be tough on the outside and unspoiled on the inside?
It’s impossible for us to be completely gathered in, to be stored and sheltered, away from life’s weather. Such a state would make it impossible for us to grow and improve. Yet, there is something to be said for becoming hardened on the outside. We can be buffeted and challenged by others, yet still be able to stand tall and strong through it all. It means being able to have strength when times are hard and being resilient to snap back when pushed.
Circumstances will cause every one of us to create a hard coat of personal protection just to survive. But there is a difference between being solely tough on our exterior and being dark, outside and inside. Hopefully not one of us wants to be “rotten to the core.”
Our challenge is to be able to withstand the tempests of life’s difficulties while remaining giving, soft and loving from within. Perhaps this is the most desirable definition of what it means to be tough as a human being. It’s something for us to think about.
When I walk past those three large bales of hay again in the coming days. I’ll continue to wonder if they’re rotten to the core by now, or if there is still good buried deep within them. They’ll remind me to continuously remember the importance of being tough on the outside while protecting my giving, soft and loving part on the inside.
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.