Nothing lights up a bookworm like browsing another’s library. Imagine the life-memory-scale thrill of an gardening-loving bookworm given the chance to browse the personal library of organic luminary J.I. Rodale.
Rodale had an outsized influence on preserving and promoting organic farming and gardening. His son Robert took the seeds planted by his father to new levels as evidenced by the work still being done by the Rodale Institute.
J.I. Rodale was fascinating in the extreme, chasing dozens of entrepreneurial ventures ranging from health and farming and gardening to linguistics and grammar, to humor and literature . . . the list goes on. His moment of personal transformation came with the reading of An Agricultural Testament by Sir Albert Howard.
That small book literally triggered him to “buy the farm,” and started him on a lifelong journey of learning and sharing natural ways to produce food and find health. His son Robert was raised in this realm and spent his own life focused there.
What was telling about J.I.’s library was his breadth of interest. There were as many books on history as other subjects. The books which still serve as foundations of current knowledge were there, as are innovative titles from the fringe — or frontiers — of knowledge.
A story is told in the Rodale family biography, published several years ago, that he would spawn ideas for new projects regularly. It was his wife Anna who, after hearing him talk of a new idea for a few days, would say, “Enough talk already. Do something about it.”
It’s easy to fall into the trap of “always do what we’ve always done.” Change of any kind is hard. But as evidenced by J.I. Rodale’s personal activities, that’s where the fun is.
The ideas for innovative twists to current processes or operations or new enterprises are plentiful.
J.I. Rodale once said that he felt someone was chasing him; there was always that much to do. He scurried from project to project, from innovation to innovation, occasionally pruning the losers while nourishing the winners. We all can learn from his example of curiosity couple with action.