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?