I love beans.
So I stared in awe the first time I witnessed a bean harvest in my Peace Corps village.
In the developed world, beans are picked, dried, sorted, and packaged by machine. But in a rural Ecuadorian village, people do the best they can with what they’ve got.
During harvest season, the farmer waits for a sunny day to uproot his bean plants, bring them to the highway, and bake them in the sun. He shuts down one entire lane of traffic in the process. Though this puts him and his family in danger, the highway is all he’s got.
After several hours, the sun soaks the last drop of moisture out of the pods. The farmer then tramples the bone-dry pods to crack them open. The beans spill forth on the highway.
After the farmer sweeps up the beans, they pass through his hands, his wife’s hands, and then his children’s hands. Progressively smaller sets of fingers pick out the scraps and rocks, leaving only beans behind.
No electricity, no machinery.
Just hands, highway, and heat.
Do the best you can with what you’ve got, the bean farmers taught me.
What a valuable lesson for a triathlete.
It’s so easy to get distracted with what we could be if only we had something that we don’t.
Could I go faster on a Cervelo P5? Maybe.
Would I be a better triathlete if I didn’t have a full-time job? Perhaps.
Would I be faster if I had grown up swimming? Who knows?
But like the resourceful bean farmers, what we do have is much more important than what we don’t.
May that lesson guide us through 2013.
Here’s a jam from Socalled along those same lines:
And some more endurance musings with global and cultural connections: