Start Digging A Hole

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Advice columnist Jeanne Marie Laskas writes that the best neighborly advice she ever received was when she overdosed at the nursery and came home with a pickup full of zinnias, petunias and pansies.

After unloading the truck in hot sun, she felt overwhelmed. It would take days to get those plants in, she said. She almost gave up.

But a neighbor found Jeanne Marie sitting in the dirt. The neighbor leaned over, picked up a trowel and handed it to Jeanne.

Just dig one hole, she said. You plant a garden one flower at a time.

I thought of that advice when I was standing in the doorway of what I call my computer room. It was running over with unhung clothes and nowhere to hang them. There were pictures I'd never hung on the wall or displayed. There were baskets of sentimental greeting cards I didn't want to throw away. And there were gifts I had bought but never given away, stacked here and there. Clothes were hanging on door knobs and on a hook on the back of the entrance door. And the desk was piled with used typing paper, notebooks, and calendars.

I just didn't know where to start to clean up the overflow of stuff. In the past, I would just stare at the junked up room, shake my head and walk away discouraged.

I thought of Jeanne Marie and her experience with her neighbor. Her advice applies to all of life's activities. You write a book one word at a time, clean a closet one shelf at a time, run a marathon one step at a time, Jeanne Marie said.

All the above mentioned have had beginnings; there was a start, a first step to accomplishment.

Yes, a baby learns to walk by taking that first step, albeit unsteady.

An honor student must open the books and study before he can achieve that high standing.

A writer must put that first word on the empty page. An artist must paint the first swab on the canvas.

A teacher must make a lesson plan before she stands before her students.

An actor must study his lines before the camera rolls.

A basketball player must hone his skills by practicing, just as I have watched athletes do on Monday nights at the local community center. The boys have mock games and shoot baskets over and over as they perfect the game.

A dancer must also practice the footsteps to be effectual on the dance floor.

Yes, a preacher, too, must study the Word and prepare before he delivers a sermon to the congregation.

A church marquee displays the sign, "Before you walk on water, you have to get out of the boat."

In short, if you have a dream, take the first step.

Get your spade and dig a hole.