The unsown future always turns to desert sand, but it is demanding work to become a sower.
If you take a moment to reflect on this ancient metaphor of seeding and reaping, it may not really be the sowing that is the problem. Our struggle always arises not so much in the planting, but in the cultivating, plowing, watering, and weeding. It isn’t the sowing that brings us frustration, it’s the work before and after.
We know that we will get what we sow. We know that you cannot reap what you do not sow, and we seem to plant very often.
We get excited. We get committed. We psyche ourselves out. We chant mantras. Write ourselves love you notes. Buy new workout clothes. We start eating leafy vegetables. We purchase a graphic organizer. A new pencil case. A set of file folders. A new sketch pad.
We are always ready to sow.
What goes wrong?
I know I have failed too many times to remember because I did not cultivate or prepare.
I didn’t toss the many piles of junk that clutter my home and my mind.
I have always tried to develop new habits, but I did not do anything about my old habits.
In the end, when we are honest with ourselves, that’s a whole lotta habits. The roots of the old, the true, and the trusted habits, will always win and choke the tender budding roots of what is new and vulnerable.
We need to prepare.
We can prepare by quitting things that either waste time, or anything that drains our energy.
For me, clarity came at the end of collecting hockey cards, which not only cost a few dollars, but consumed an immeasurable amount of time. In the end, they all ended up in a box. A nice, beautiful, white, cardboard box. Nestled in the basement, next to camping gear.
These cards were so beautiful and so important, so memorable, that on the rare occasion, I would be shocked to discover that I bought the same card twice, forgetting how much I had already stock piled for a rainy day.
I quit television too.
I started watching television when I was younger. It was a great way to learn English and I loved the comedies and dramas. They were great and I had all the time in the world.
I loved Cheers, Seinfeld, X-Files, MacGyver, and even the Thundercats. I am not trying to compare what was to what is, I am just saying that I loved television.
Then the reality shows came, and the good shows left and took up residence on HBO, FX, AMC, and Netflix. At first, I went with them, but there were too few of them, and I was tired of opening my wallet to keep playing.
The new breed of reality shows arrived and after several years of watching, they seem to be nothing more, than an opportunity to voice unbridled displeasure about this or about not having that.
Everyone is either fixing things for profit, looking for love, trying to fight each other for a chance at some money, making duck calls, or buying old scrap in storage lockers.
Television had to go.
I quit socializing in the staffroom as well.
Most conversations inevitably turn to gossip, or stories about the good old days, the next vacation, how short the weekend was, thank God, it’s Friday, or how glorious it will be when we retire.
I did some cultivating too.
Up at 4:02 am. At the gym by 4:30 am. After that, a coffee shop, to write daily, before the kids wake up and excitedly steal the rest of my day.
I eat more. Sleep a touch less. Count my protein. Keep my calories down, and remind my stomach that it is not hungry, it’s just bored.
I water the seed.
I water, by keeping a daily nightly journal of all the things that I am grateful for, and all the things that I did to pursue my dreams. I go to bed thinking of the opportunities that might present themselves tomorrow. I head to bed gladly, awaiting that which is to come.
I read good books. Be they biographies, or motivational books about marketing, business, self-esteem, or a myriad of things I need to develop and improve on.
I listen to audible books all the time. There is something magical that happens, when you have a powerful and excited speaker telling you that you matter, that your dreams can come true, that it is time to go, take some names, and kick some ass.
There is nothing like it in the world.
I also weed.
Inevitably old habits and ugly patterns come back to haunt us. They are resilient. They are persistent. They are pesky little bastards.
Recently, I have gotten into the habit of looking into my own eyes in the mirror. I gaze into everyone else’s, it was time to look inwards.
It is amazing what thoughts creep up. Be warned, this is not usually a pleasant experience, especially at 4:02 am, when the body uses all kinds of tricks against me.
A lot of garbage bubble up to the surface. Fear. Loathing. Regret. Visions of futility. Visions of failure. Self-doubt. But also, thoughts of possibility. Little rays of sunshine. Streams of opportunity that I try to grab and hold, and ride for the rest of the day.
Who knew that I was such a great gardener.
If you’re still with me here, you must admit that sometimes a great metaphor helps to explain what is hidden, when words fail, or we begin to spin our wheels and repeat ourselves.
I don’t think dreaming is as complicated as we make it out to be.
Prepare the ground.
Toil and cultivate it.
Ditch, chuck, throw, burry, and burn all that holds you back.
Plant the seed. No matter how small. No matter how fragile.
Water that seed, with habits that will bring you life.
Weed things out of your life. Most importantly, weed out people that purposefully or unconsciously cause you harm.
Be grateful. Be patient.
Dig your ditch.
And as Seth Godin calls to action, go and make a ruckus.