Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Digging the Dirt

I was duped into a job way worse than white-washing a fence by someone way more cunning than Tom Sawyer. Yes, Spike, I am referring to you. This is how you sold it to me over the phone- true or true?

"Bernadette, do you want to work with us again for a couple of days? Remember last time? Bern, think Sally-Lunns and real coffee. Bern, think lots of laughs and the perfect comradery you have with the totally irresistible Spikey and Wolfey"

"Oh, and what precisely is involved, Spikey?", I asked suspiciously.

"Bernadette, we are on our hands and knees digging in the dirt - yeah, sounds bad, I know, but it isn't. It's easy - we just scoop out all the dead leaves and loose soil from around the roots of Tim's kiwifruit plants - only the diseased ones so the roots get sunlight. Say yes, you know you will love it!"

Of course I was riddled with doubts when I said, "Yeah, OK Spike".

By morning smoko at the Tauriko orchard the awful truth was totally apparent but I was geographically stranded many miles from home and it was obvious that Spike and Wolf didn't even mind their crippled up knees and backs if my body underwent the same fate. Sure, the coffee was amazing once we had staggered back to the shed for it. Sure, our team-work was incredible but my last jungle-bashing job was a picnic compared to this.

"Mmmm....Who do I dislike more right now? You, Spike?" and I poked an angry finger at him, "Or you, Wolf?" and turned on him.

They just grinned and washed down big slabs of Sally Lunn with coffee.

The rows seemed endless.

"Do I come back tomorrow?", I asked the dirt as I flung handfuls of it behind me faster than a fox-terrier after savaging a steroid-spiked bone. "Don't be stupid!", it replied.

Stupidly, I turned up next day because the job needed doing and, to be honest, when I work with Wolf and Spike I do indeed get to laugh so much that I almost topple into a hole of my own digging.

Mercifully the job finished at 4pm, just when we thought we could carry on no longer.

So, apart from earning a few dollars what did two days of grubbing and poking and soil-flinging do for me?

Well, for another two days I hobbled like the Hunchback of Notre-Dumb but an insight did manage to weave itself into the flabbergasting fabric that is my cerebral-gortex.

Here it is. When you or I are plagued by faulty thinking that makes our spirits want to wither up and die, we need light to shine into the very root of the problem for nothing is achieved by a cosmetic touch-up.

And, if we can't dig away the dirt from our own toxic thinking because we lack the necessary tools, get someone to dig with you so you survive.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Light at the End of the Tunnel

An overly-familiar Shropshire forced me to eat lunch in the car today. When he lunged at my ciabatta bread-roll (it had peanut-butter and squished banana in it), I fled from under the vines to the passenger's seat of my car and wound the window right up.

While the sheep snorted miffed nostrils against the glass I grinned back, munched on black jelly-beans and contemplated the life-lessons I learned in the last seven weeks while I sawed and lopped and tugged at those three rows of shockingly entangled kiwifruit vines. My leather gloves fell to bits, my arms ached, my legs bruised, my forehead perspired and an inner-voice often taunted me with, 'Dummkopf!'.

Yes, there were times I almost gave up the mammoth task.

But when the last cane fell and sunlight danced where darkness had reigned for so long, well, what an incredible sense of achievement!

So, while imprisoned in my own vehicle, here are the principles I came up with:

1)  When life is just a long dark tunnel of tangled-up problems even the tiniest determined action to improve things lets in a tiny pinpoint of light.

2)  When enough tiny pinpoints of light gather together they become a sunny patch.

3) When enough sunny patches merge we dare to hope.

4) When we feel hope the necessary energy seems to well up within and we find ourselves chopping away with increased gusto!

5) Even if there is still plenty of problem to tackle, glance back now and then to enjoy how far you've come.

6) At a certain stage we do indeed see the light at the end of the dark tunnel so be sure to pay yourself a compliment or three about how determined and resilient and amazing you are.

7) If the going gets tough and your progress seems pathetically slow ask a friend to remind you how determined and resilient and amazing you are.

8) Be sure to do the same for them when they struggle with something. Only the dead are burden-free.

9) Take breaks when fatigue strikes and make mini-celebrations of them whether your coffee  is poured from  an old thermos flask or dripped from the finest Italian espresso-machine.  Both brews are beautiful if you decide they are.

10) Mission accomplished? Rejoice! Sure, another wilderness will challenge you again one day but is there any harm in being happy and relieved in the meantime?