January 9, 2010
A Country Boy and His DreamsBy Josiah Cantrall
As a farmhand, I was quite at home leaning against the brick wall of the local farm implement dealership. Today was their annual open house, and my boss and I had joined other farmers from across the county in attendance. The warm winter sunshine reflected brightly off the tractors surrounding me.
I shook my head in amazement. Less than a month ago, I had become the youngest person ever elected to the governing body of the Young Republican National Federation. In the upcoming months, I would be traveling to Indiana and Illinois to represent the Wisconsin Young Republicans at meetings with various prominent political figures. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the gold chandeliers and marble pillars of the famous hotels I would be staying at.
Then I looked down at my torn jeans and work boots caked in manure and mud. Did a boy in filthy farm clothes even dare to enter the political world of power and elitism? Was it even realistic for a common youth to dream of graduating from law school and someday taking his place among the nation's leaders?
A loud burst of laughter startled my thoughts.
"Hey, boys, here comes the city slicker," yelled a grizzled old man.
My eyes followed his gaze until I noticed a salesman sporting a new suit attempting to pick his way through the crowd. I tried to shrug off the old man's joke, but I couldn't. Do these people realize that I spend half my time in a world where suits and ties are the norm? I looked at my boss, searching for his reaction to the man's comment.
Regardless of my political dreams, I would consider my life a complete failure if I ever lost the respect and friendship of people like him. Some may consider my boss and other country folk to be backward, unimportant members of society, but these hardworking, rural residents will always be "my people."
Soon my boss and I said our goodbyes, climbed back into the truck, and headed home. We started swapping tales and exchanging bits of gossip we had picked up throughout the day.
"Did you hear Elbe is buying more cows?"
"No way! Where does he get the money from?"
"Did you hear so-and-so wants to buy a new manure spreader?"
"Um, why? How much crap can those twelve jersey cows produce?"
Gradually our conversation turned to politics and my future plans.
"All I know, Dude, is when you get to the White House I am going to be your pooper-scooper...just give me a large travel budget and good benefits and I'll scoop up dog poop all day for ya. Or wait -- maybe I'll be your lawn-keeper. That probably pays more, huh?" My boss smirked as he thought these ideas through.
"Sorry, I already promised the lawn-keeper job to my other buddy," I replied, keeping the joke going.
Without even blinking, he replied, "Ah, hire your buddy, Dude. I ain't doing any work. I just want a cozy job and free government benefits."
I laughed. We were joking around, discussing my future, but was this talk really just foolishness? Isn't America the land of dreams and ambitions? Are not hope and opportunity the essence of a free society? I leaned back in my seat and sighed contently. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a look of affection on the face of this rough-neck farmer. Sometimes unspoken love has more power than words. Inwardly, I knew what he was thinking...he truly wanted me to succeed.
I stumbled for words as I tried to express my emotions. I faltered and then tried again. ''Tim..." I paused. "Tim, if this world wasn't so messed up, I'd want to be a farmer like you." There. I finally said it. Now my boss knew how I really felt about our simple way of life.
"No," he said.
I looked up at him in surprise. "No," he repeated. "No, Josiah, we need someone like you fighting for us."
Relief enveloped me, and a heavy weight was lifted from my heart. With the reassurance of his loyalty and his faith in me, I knew I could step out and away from my small-town roots. We drove the remaining time in silence. It was okay. Happiness had found me, and at last, I was truly content. No matter where life may take me, in spite of every achievement or victory that I may experience, I will never forget this simple farmer. A voice daily reminds me to press on and never relinquish my love for America or my dreams of serving her. For I have my God, my family, and now my friend Tim the farmer behind me. In America, that is enough.
Josiah Cantrall is a 19-year-old blogger at somethingtodiefor.wordpress.com.