Diggin' Ditches

grind it out

 

You need to grind it out.

Don’t look for a magic formula, a secret recipe, or something that you forgot or mysteriously overlooked.

I know grinding it out is not an easy proposition, and it’s not what you want to hear at this moment, but the only way out, is to grind your way through. It is exactly the kind of short cut you seek. The only true and tested way. The shortest approach to where you want to be. A breath away from the person you wish to be.

We are not talking about being involved in something toxic or grinding yourself stupid against a dead end. We are talking about your dreams. About your purpose in life.

We are talking about staying motivated when everyone who was cheering you on found something else to do. We are talking about the time when you are left alone, without any real sense of purpose or where you are, or what motivated you to be here, in the first place.

Zig Ziglar, the mystical sage of Yazoo City, Mississippi, reminds us that motivation is like bathing. It is a very good idea to do it well and to do it often.

The rest of the time you just have to grind it out.

Don’t look back at where you’ve been or the life you’ve lived. Don’t look ahead either and get discouraged by all the things still left undone.

Don’t focus on anyone who seems to be competing against you. They have their own journey. They have their own struggles. Their own challenges. So never compare yourself to anyone, and fight your feeling to quit.

Grind it out.

You’re not being asked to be successful. To win. You’re not being asked to know why and where you are going. You’re not being asked anything, except to honour your commitment to yourself, and keep digging your ditch.

Grind it out.

Don’t ask how it is going to get done. Believe that it will be done, and work so that it can get done.

Don’t measure. Don’t count. Don’t change lanes. Don’t chase butterflies or bright shiny objects. Don’t get down on yourself. Don’t scream at people. Don’t get discouraged.

Above all else, don’t give up.

Grind it out.

You see. Grinding it out means that the game is not over. Hope is not dead. Faith still contains within itself a myriad of possibilities.

Today, you feel tired and lonely. Today, you feel dejected and defeated.

You’re not wrong, that is exactly how you feel, but don’t project your feelings into the future. What you are today is not an indication of who you’re planning on becoming tomorrow.

So, grind it out.   

Pick up your pen and continue writing. Turn on your digital recorded and continue recording your song. Ask forgiveness again. Yes, again. Put down your cigarette. Stay sober for the next twenty-four hours. Go for a walk. Get back in the weight room. Leave your abusive relationship. Leave your stuff. Just go.

Grind it out.

It feels oppressive. It feels tedious. There doesn’t seem to be an end.

But there is.

You will be free. You will be stronger. You’ll reach your summit and begin the climb of another.

But not, if you don’t grind this out.

 


the summit and the climb

 

You cannot get to the summit without the climb, and there is no reason to climb without the summit. Both are important. Both draw their breath from the other. But your life will be only be shaped by submitting to one of them.

Reaching the summit is an achievement. A measurable, bankable, and an undeniably great achievement. Making your climb on the other hand, is long, at times tedious, forgettable and wholeheartedly rests in the realm of possibilities.

No one can fully measure the significance of each your steps, and you will make countless steps along the way. There is no journey and no summit without any one of them. All of them matter.  They are all extremely significant.

We can’t reach the peak without the steps.  Without the ones that made us stumble.  Without the ones, we made in hesitation and later in sorrow.  The ones we were forced to take.  The ones that made us slip and fall, but we cannot forget about the ones that made us skip and jump.  The ones that made us laugh and scream in excitement.

We can’t reach the summit without any of the steps that made us embrace the journey we are on in the first place.

At the closing ceremonies of the third annual Invictus Games, hosted in Toronto recently, Prince Harry made a heartfelt address to the many wounded warriors that sat in front of him.

He told them, and I am paraphrasing, that today they reached the top of the mountain.  They have persevered, overcome, and have reached their glorious summit. They should enjoy the view. They should soak up the feeling of victory and never forget that dreams come true.

He also told them to remember that tomorrow will inevitably come. The extraordinary will once again slide back into ordinary.  Saturday night, will turn to Monday morning. Summer will become Winter.

He told them to make a plan. To decide to be great. To start a business or start a ruckus. He told them that their acts can be simple like calling a friend they haven’t seen in a while, or doing homework with their kids. He told them to support one another. To dream out loud. To work towards the next summit.

I learned much that evening.

I learned the meaning of the old cliché that life is a journey and not a destination.

I heard it so often but I never understood the meaning.

It’s the process.  The journey.  The climb.

So, enjoy all the little, seemingly unconnected moments. Embrace the insignificant little things, and quickly forget your missteps.

You have a choice to make.  You are free to either be infatuated with the mountain peak and spend your life chasing the high of another brilliant performance, or you can fall in love and cherish the friendship of the rigorous climb. 

Quite frankly, we will spend the majority of our lives walking and climbing.  We will spend most of our days, which will quickly turn into years, moving forward, marching towards the next horizon. When we get there, and we will get there, we will see a new horizon. A more glorious sunrise that we could have imagined, and we will once again continue our journey. We will take a new step.

I hope you decide to be a person of the climb and not the summit.  I hope you decide to participate and share your gifts with the rest of us because there is never a good reason why you should hide.

Don’t hide.

Fall in love with the climb. Embrace your bruises and scars. Take a step upward. Climb with confidence. Climb with meaning.

You will get to the peak of the mountain. 

I believe in you.

You will get there and for a moment, you will bask in the glory of it all.  You will feel great, but all of your memories and all of your stories that you will begin to tell, will not be about what you saw, but rather who you were with, what you overcame, and what you had to sacrifice to get there.

Learn from Prince Harry and the Wounded Warriors.

Keep climbing and encourage others along the way.

 


weekend quotable no. 38

 

 “Look to the future,

because that is where you’ll spend

the rest of your life”.

George Burns

 

Today is yesterday’s tomorrow.

Today.  Right now.

Right here.

Do you see the two paths that emerge in the woods?  One that is well worn and doubles back to your past, and the other one, that rough and uncertain, because it’s untrodden and leads to the future.

The past is comfortable.  It fits and suits us well.  It’s dependable.  Well worn.  Repeatable.  And this is precisely why, you need to leave it behind. 

Get a shovel.  Dig its grave.  Say a prayer and walk away.

Don’t look back in anger.

Look forward in hope.

Look to the future.

Live in the present.

Spend today, working for tomorrow.

A better tomorrow.  A genuine tomorrow. 

An unmeasurable tomorrow.  A tomorrow full of possibilities.

Don’t waste another moment crippled by fear.  Let go of your stories and invent new ones. 

It’s all invented anyway. 

Spend more time more time dreaming, a little more time doing, and a lot less time recollecting.

Take the road less traveled.

It will make all the difference.

 


weekend quotable no. 37

 

 “All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be, the blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.”

JRR Tolkien

 

Take heart, especially if you’re down.

Take heart because not all that is gold always glitters.  Not everything that you do may make any sense.  But a good way out is to make an actual decision.  A way out is to actually stick to a plan.  A way out is to get to work, sling that dirt, dig your ditch, and just let go. 

Let go of everything.  Turn away from everything you have done.  Close your eyes on who you think you are and where you think you are going.  Just let go.  Leap forward, and let life reveal the best direction to go.

You may feel like you’re lost, but in truth, there is nowhere you must be.  There is nowhere you must go.  There is nothing you must accomplish.  It is all imagined and you control the thermostat of your dreams. 

Being lost implies knowing how to take the certain path, but most of our happiness comes about in joyfully stumbling along.

You must let go of the world of measurement, and embrace a universe of possibilities.

Embrace what could be.  Imagine what will be.

Your mistakes probably sting a great deal.  Your failures sometimes feel like you’re really broken.  But take comfort in the thought that a fire can be awoken, with some effort, even from seemingly cold, abandoned ashes.  A light can always spring through the shadows. 

Hold on to hope. 

Don’t quit too early. 

Don’t lose heart.

You will once again be crowned a Queen.

 


you see what you want to see

 

Seeing things for what they are, is a tricky business.  I relearned this week that the human mind, before it hears or accepts any new information, grapples with it first and decides where it will put it.

You decide your response before you listen. 

You don’t respond, you seek a reason to move on.

This means that depending on your mood, your well-being, your prejudices and biases, you will hear and hear again, and not understand.  Which explains why some people cannot see the terror they are inflicting on others, not that this excuses them in any way, shape, or form.

We see what we want to see.

We see what we have been preconditioned to see.  What we accepted to be the truth.

Case in point. 

Up here in Canada, it’s hockey season.  My son has once again decided, or was somewhat encouraged, to lace up his skates yet again.  He plays in a House League, and it is a noticeable difference from the Rep hockey experience.  He is a beautiful eight years old boy and we are trying to shield him from any possible concussions, or unrealistic expectations of winning at all cost. 

House league is perfect for us.  There is less pressure, a bit less nutty parents, and just about less of everything for that matter. 

If our goal for him was to become a professional Hockey player, House League would be a mistake, but we are willing to take that risk.  Choosing instead to expose him to art and music, or perhaps to a memorable, happy, carefree childhood.

The last game he played, our team won 7-1. 

It was clear from the very beginning that this would be an uneven contest.  Our parents cheered their kids, right to the very end.  They cheered loudly.  The clapped loudly.  They cheered on the first goal, with the same enthusiasm and tenacity, as they did the seventh.

And that was the problem.

A parent from the other team became livid and insatiably angry.  They ranted and raved.  Thrashed and cried.  Told anyone that would listen about the insolent sportsmanship they were witnessing.  They complained to the league convener.  They tried everything they could, to right a wrong, and I would too, if I saw what they saw.

But I didn’t.

What they didn’t see or know is that five of the seven goals had been scored by kids who have never, ever scored before.  Their parents, and grandparents were overcome with excitement, because it was something truly special to behold, and may not come around again. 

I wonder how angry the parent would have been, if they knew the other side.

We see what we want to see.

When you dig for gold, you will either get discouraged by all the dirt you’ve fought through, or you will stay faithful and hopeful, that you have a good sense to believe that there is gold to be mined.

You should definitely always look for the gold.

Don’t get absorbed and buried by the dirt.

At the end of your life, your friends and family, will certainly do that part for you.   But in the meantime, there is no reason to live the life you don’t want to live.  There is no reason to become who you dream of being.

But perhaps there is. 

That reason is you.

In the final analysis, it is you who decides what you see. 

You will either see the rain that provides life to everything, or the relentless moisture that fucks up your new hairdo and spoils your wedding day. 

You can either embrace the people that love and respect you, or bitch and moan about the people, who truly cannot stand you, even when you’re far away.

You can see your failures as a new beginning, or you can see them as another proof of your wretchedness.

You see, you see what you want to see.

You do what you want to do.

So search your heart and ask yourself why? 

Don’t take the next step.  Decide and know why you are taking the next step. 

You don’t have to know where you are going, as long as you know where and who you no longer wish to be.

You must walk somewhere, so you might as well, step forward, with some courage, purpose, and a smile.

Happiness is not a state of doing, it is state of being.

So, begin to see things you might typically ignore.

Take the time to listen.

Slow down.

You were born with wonderful talent, so focus on the good you do. 

Focus on where you want to be. 

The rest is just a sea of endless possibilities.   

 

 


hiding in plain sight

 

When it comes to having dreams, we always raise our hands in excitement.  When it comes time to buying the shovel and spade, and doing the work, the numbers noticeably dwindle.  When it’s time to finish what we started, and be finally done with our labour, the numbers become even more anemic.  Finally, when it’s time to gift the world with what you’ve made, you will find yourself very much alone.

You will begin to doubt, get anxious, and become overwhelmed with fear. 

I am still trying to figure out what it is about our human nature that prevents us from sharing who we are.  What it is that distracts us and convinces us that we are not good enough.

We don’t think of ourselves as unworthy impostors, until we have something we can share. 

We begin to imagine we will die a slow and painful death of shame and indignation and so we pull back in fear, because everyone will once again know and see our very frail limitations. 

The good life, the happy life, is meant for someone else.  The lives of Saints, are a painful reminder that success is not found on a road less travelled.  It is nothing more than an abandoned dead end. 

This is a lie we tell ourselves.

It is a truly strange because when toss the first shovel full of dirt over our shoulder, the glory and sense of accomplishment, is all we envision and sense. 

We spend time imagining what it will feel like when we were finished.  We impress our minds with how meaningful and beautiful it will all be when we finish.  How glorious, to share who we are, and what we have made, with perfect strangers.  Strangers no more.  Brothers and sisters connected in a beautiful spirit of human experience.

But we don’t ship.  We hide.  We hide from ourselves and we hide from each other.

We hide in plain sight.

When we are close, we nit-pick. 

We find fault. 

We notice errors in the smallest of things, the insignificant, magnifying the mistakes no one sees or even cares about.  We seek the council of people who we know deep down, will find something wrong with what we have made.  We thrash about looking and embracing every sensible opinion that convinces us that what we really need, is just one more day, another week, another month, and perhaps another whole year. 

You need to get it right, to polish it up; just a little bit more.  Just a tiny bit.  Almost there.  Have faint, it’s almost time.  A crank here. A little adjustment.  A little tug.  The slightest pull.

And so, you hide.

We have hidden who we are for years.  Decades. 

We run away from what we want, who we are, and what we dream about.

It’s safer not to make a ruckus. To not raise your voice.  To sit down.  To timidly, take it.  To politely wait your turn.

But your turn never comes. 

You are almost there, but never there.

You hate yourself for not speaking up and become tired and weary for spending your entire life, sitting back and taking it.

When is it going to be your turn?

When will you stand up and have people take notice?

It won’t be easy.  The criticism will certainly fly.  The gossip will wage a war against your human dignity.  Eyebrows will be raised in indignation.  Your work will be scrutinized.  It will be misunderstood.  Dissected.  Laughed at.  Jeered.  Embraced?

Could there be a chance someone will find value with what you have made?

Think of the possibilities.

You might make someone laugh.  Bring a smile to their tired face.  Give them an opportunity to cry.  Afford them permission to be who they are.  The courage to no longer pretend who they don’t want to be.  You might give them a voice, or dispel their loneliness. 

You might give them a moment of peace.  A chance to reflect.  An opportunity to embrace their broken humanity.

You might inspire them. 

Anger them. 

You might make them think and feel.

You might make a ruckus!

But not, if you remain timid, and hide in plain sight.

Nothing matters.  Nothing grows.  Nothing changes with silence and fear.

Find your voice. 

Find the courage.

Find a way to share.