a few days ago something came in the mail bearing the simple return address, “polyface 24479”.

for those of you who don’t grasp this significance right away, this is joel salatin’s farm.

and for those of you who don’t grasp this significance right away, joel salatin is perhaps the greatest farmer i am aware of today (notice, please, that i am allowing for the fact that there are many many terrific farmers out there! but it happens to be that joel salatin is a recognizable name and face for many reasons- read on for more on why…).

in addition to being the author of more than a few fantastic books, joel salatin has been in many of the better food documentaries i have seen. just the other night i was watching one (called fresh, and it really deserves a post all its own…) and there he was! i find him SO engaging and so full of knowledge he is just a wonder to watch.

this past summer i heard him speak in person, for what i hope will be only the first of many times, and he was a forceful inspiration. he has that rare gift for making you feel so inspired- like you can conquer mountains- without making you feel at all overwhelmed with the task ahead. i seriously could have listened to him all day long, and i could tell i wasn’t the only one. for the first time in my life, i understood rock-n-roll groupies who will follow bands around the country, even though they just hear the same show over and over; listening to joel salatin speak was like listening to a spell being cast. if i was young and strong and unattached i might have sold my worldly possessions and gone to apprentice myself on his farm.

yes, he is that awesome.

but before i ever heard him speak, and before i ever read all of his books, i saw him in a few interviews. i was so intrigued by what he had to say that i wrote him a letter. i asked him some real questions about where to best put my energies post “oak park hates veggies” drama.

and then i realized what a big deal he was.

when i heard him speak in person i was so in awe of him that i didn’t even go over to him afterward(my kids thought this was totally goofy of me, but i thought this was appropriately respectful of his time). i realized that i would probably never get a response to my letter, and i was totally fine with that, because it was really more of a fan letter, and i had since found an answer to many of the questions i had asked him; the information had been there the whole time on his website and in his books, but i hadn’t known to look there. oops.

so when this envelope came in the mail, handwritten from polyface, i kind of tripped out.

and then i opened it and there was an actual handwritten card inside from joel salatin and i big time tripped out.

he was encouraging and thoughtful and of course he was awesome.

but why am i posting this whole saga here on the blog?

because first of all, i want you all to know that even “bigshots” are people. from where i sit, he is like a demigod, but he wrote to me. sometimes we all underestimate our ability to make an impact, and i wanted to share this here to get out the message that

YOU JUST NEVER KNOW.

it is so easy to get into a rut and feel impotent about so many things, but we can be the ripple in the pond. we can be the letter that tips the scale or the signature on the petition that puts them over the top or the phone call that makes someone listen. we can be the lifeline someone holds onto or the light that guides someone through the dark.

sometimes we just sit back, assuming that Someone Else will take care of things. we have other things to do. we are busy. yep, i get that. we have to prioritize our time.

but when you are deciding how to allocate your time and your resources, let it be based on your beliefs and your passions, and never on your insecurities.

the only way to live your most powerful life is to put one foot in front of the other and just take a step.

and who knows what you might find in your mailbox?