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June 22, 2014

Stop in the Name of Conviction. ~ Rachel Joyce Wittmann

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One of my closest friends is working as a sales manager for a new and upcoming business in Washington, D.C.

Her boss is a farmer who decided to dedicate his time and talent to the production of a new era of lettuce. Dozens of types of sprouts—sunflowers, broccolis and radishes to name a few—are harvested at the green age of two weeks, in order to capture the cream of the crop: nutrients.

These dense baby plants are cleaned, cut and packaged to be bought as salad greens. My friend and her boss just beam with ambition and, what do you know—I didn’t share that joy, at first.

I’ve been an American expat for almost two years now, so it’s only natural that Sunday morning Skype calls have come to be a sacred ritual. On a recent video chat with my friend the sprout-pioneer, in just one sentence, I threw away years of practice and, apparently, some pretension, too.

My friend and I had been talking about her duties of late, my job, the Spanish economic situation; its comparison to the economy in the U.S., and the global economy, in general. We’d come to the point in the dialog where you start making conclusions and summaries so that no argument goes missing.

“Well, in today’s economy, any business with interests other than profit, and profit alone, isn’t going to make it very long.” The words slipped out and I bit my lip—who said that?

It was me.

Yours truly.

Who has advocated for the local guy over the supermarket chain in every conversation that permits it for the last four years of my life. Only then did I realize I was in over my head.

I’m convinced it’s a sort of birth defect—God, it would save me so much grief if it could just be true!

Plain and simple, I’m not one for big decisions. I never have been (my parents and fiancé are better testimony than anyone could ask for).

I do love collecting information, preparing arguments and debating, but it takes some serious work to win my honest affiliation. In this case, the serious work brewed for four years, exploded in one sentence and now I’m deciding how to paint my masterpiece.

Four years ago, I stepped into a tapestry-lined house full of vegetarians, vegans and DIY enthusiasts. Over the next couple of years, I maintained close ties with some of the stronger advocates of the house and started to grow my own ideas and passions.

I took great interest in the eternal battle between the plebeian and the aristocrat and settled on their particular struggle for consumerist dominion.

I swore off Giants and Acmes and became the Chester County Farmer’s Market’s best customer. My interest danced through me the first year—mastered the art of weaving arguments for local produce into at least two conversations daily.

This past year, my interest in “the little guy” would take frequent, long leaves of absence. Some weeks, I lectured on recycling and conservation, while other times I could be found happily hoarding piles of plastic water bottles and chocolate wrappers.

Not until that Sunday Skype conversation did I realize my position of, “on the fence” wasn’t much to be desired. I’ve been a woman of colors—lots of colors and bells my whole life—but when a stranger asks me what my favorite color is, I’m dumbfounded.

The comment I made that Sunday showed me what I hadn’t been able to see for the passed four years:

1). It’s hard to really believe in something you haven’t sacrificed for. My sprout-pioneer friend has sacrificed lots of her personal time in order to really get her product on the market. She’s also selflessly set aside hopes of a higher wage, for the time being.

She is passionate about her work, and so completely tied to it that money is a secondary concern. I told her that her product wouldn’t make it… that it couldn’t succeed, but she knew otherwise. She and that visionary boss of hers were prepared for obstacles—heck, I bet they even planned for them. The fact that their convictions would be tested hasn’t fazed them.

Dancing in the rain….

Waiting for the rainbow.

That’s something only true dedication and sacrifice can teach.

2). Once you’ve been sucker-punched and roughed-up by those challenges and you’re still standing firmly for your convictions: Don’t hold back.

I won’t buy plastic water bottles anymore: I can’t.

It may seem like a laughable conviction, but for me, it’s essential.

It’s the everyday challenge and my response. It’s the vivid memory—the feeling of my convictions.

It’s what we can do…what we are going to do.

Now, to paint my masterpiece.

 

 

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Apprentice Editor: Amanda Fleming Taylor/Editor: Travis May

Photo: Rena Sap/Pixoto

 

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