Now there’s a tough word in many ways. I’ll bet most of us would have a hard time even spelling it without spellcheck. It uses that “and sometimes Y” for its only vowel. But living rhythm is the real challenge.
From our heartbeat to running a farm to just a life well lived, rhythm is key to sustained success. Most every American is running behind—which means we’re trying to do more than we can—except for those of us who are procrastinating today and will be running behind tomorrow.
Neither I nor my forebears have ever earned a living other than from farming, but while rhythm might be more evident on a farm, I’ll bet there’s an orderly connectedness regardless whether your craft is motherhood or blacksmithing.
Each season on the farm—bloom, growth, harvest and rest—has not only its own rhythm, but also a distinct tempo that carries you along and through similar to a marching cadence and not at all unlike music. Play the notes of the season as well as you want, but if the rhythm is off, the concert is gonna be pretty tough to sit through. Get the rhythm right though and you can miss a note or two and still enjoy the season.
The rhythm isn’t just around us—earth around the sun, 7 day week, 28 day lunar cycle—it’s also in us; 15-30 breaths per minute, 60-160 heart beats per minute; rhythmic expansion and contraction within the boundaries of measured time; our most valuable possession and gift.
Planned pauses are also important, because they give resonance to the notes; wouldn’t be much of a symphony or a life without strategic rhythmic pause. Creative functionality requires intentional pause.
So time is the medium we all live, work, play, love and rest in. From Mother Theresa, to Einstein to you and me, we all function within the rhythm of time. Business is all about time; “better gizmos quicker” is a typical refrain yet how fast we’re goin shouldn’t be confused with either progress or productivity unless that speed is making our world better.
Ultimately, our contribution comes down to how we use our precious gift of time, and this gift is desecrated both by hurry and procrastination. Understanding the seasons of our life and work and living in that intentional, unforced, productive rhythm yields maximum personal and corporate benefit.
We’re in growth rhythm on the farm right now. Every day, the fruit is geometrically larger than yesterday. This period until “pit hardening” the fruit is in cell division mode. All the cells a peach will ever have are being produced right now, so adequate nutrition is the big deal. At pit hardening, the fruit might be 15% of its potential size, but the 85% increase isn’t from additional cells within the peach, but because those existing cells grow larger. If you’re feeling the orchard’s rhythm, you’ll know that exact moment and precisely adjust your tempo to match.