Glenna was born in 1931, which seems like an awfully long time ago. She is my grandmother, and nowadays, she remembers much more about what happened in 1960 than 10 minutes ago.

Louder erica
Freelance Writer
Erica Louder is a freelance writer based in Idaho.

My life has felt a little upended lately, and emotionally, I’m wrung out. I feel exposed and at odds with the person I thought I was. Maybe this is just a product of being in my 30s, but I feel less content than I thought I would be at this point in my life. Ten years ago, we had plans for a full-time farm and cattle operation, and somewhere in the past five, we decided that those plans were incongruent with the lifestyle we’d accustomed ourselves to. We work regular jobs and farm on the side. My discontent is not because of that decision, but it is a piece of my emotional upheaval. Life isn’t what I thought it would be – I likely spend too much time with a computer as a companion, though I can’t say I don’t enjoy my work.

Recently, I was asked if I was happy. There are moments – more than moments – I am happy, but generally, I wasn’t raised to believe that happiness was a goal. Life is about being productive, not happy. Happiness only rarely enters the life equation. This is something I think too many of us ag folks believe – a genetic propensity fed by generations that alternated between prosperity and poverty.

I sat with Glenna yesterday, and she was quiet. When she first started to lose her memory, she used to wax eloquently about stories from her childhood, but lately, she sits in silence. With so much on my heart, I wonder if she was content when she was 33. I wonder if she is content at 93. Her active years are behind her, and she lives for the memories locked deep in her hippocampus. Glenna’s sphere of influence hardly reached beyond her family, yet I think she is content with her life. I hope for more for mine, but isn’t that the purview of the young? Maybe proper contentment will evade me until I am 93.

And, like my happiness, there are moments of contentment. I feel content sitting with my grandma for an hour. I feel content sloshing through the field in my irrigation boots. I feel content (and a little sore) after a 10-mile horse ride. I feel content with my hands in rich, dark soil, babying my plants. I feel content as I sit on my front porch swing with my too-big-for-my-lap son sitting on my lap as he narrates his life, and we watch the sunset.


I’m learning to be content with the moments that, while not life-changing, are life-giving. Eventually, I will feel less upheaval; maybe this is just a stage.