Last fall I cut all of the branches off of a holly bush that the previous owners had planted on the corner of the house. It had grown too big, and I wanted to take it out and plant flowers instead.
The ground was hard. I couldn’t get the shovel to break the ground. I ran water around the roots for a few hours. No, actually for twenty-four hours, I forgot to turn off the water.
After I dug around the base of the stump, the stump didn’t move. At all. It felt like the roots were encased in concrete. The root ball will never come out.
I will dig for ten million years and the root ball will still be cemented in the ground.
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
Two Options — 1.Quit 2. Keep trying.
- I could quit, and cut off the top of the stump with a saw and leave the roots.
- I could keep trying.
Every day I dug around the base of the stump. Still no movement.
I found tap roots that I cut with the pruning shears. Still no movement. The root ball was firmly in the ground.
Every time I walked outside I looked at the amputated branches of the holly bush. It taunted me, “I am not leaving. You can’t dig me out. Why don’t you just quit? Admit defeat. You can’t dig me out and you will never decide what color to make your new book cover.”
The task seemed impossible. As though Hades, the Greek god of the underworld, was holding on to the roots and not letting them leave the ground.
The stump became everything I am struggling with. The stump is every project on my desk that is unfinished. The stump is the bowl of tears I keep filling up in the darkness of my closet. The stump is the shadow of the cloud that keeps hiding the sun.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
― Mary Anne Radmacher
The value of being Stubborn, the value of not quitting
There was no hope. The root ball will never be dug up, I will never finish my projects, my tears will never dry up, and the sun will never shine again.
After two weeks of digging, no three weeks, the root ball moved.
There was hope.
I kept digging, and digging, and digging.
I dug up the root ball.
There is power in making up your mind to finish something, No matter what. The root ball was coming out. I wasn’t going to quit.
I was determined to remove the root ball.
And I did.
On my desk are projects I am working on. Small stone by small stone. The bowl of tears is evaporating in the sunshine.
Finding hope while digging up a root ball.
Finishing. No matter what.
Are there any root balls in your life right now?
Please keep digging and don’t give up.
P.S. Would you like to make a living with your writing or your art? Were you told when you were a kid that artists starve? Jeff Goins new book, Real Artist’s Don’t Starve talks about the false myth of the starving artist. If you pre-order his book there are over two hundred dollars worth of bonuses. Order the book here. Right now I am reading the book. I am on page 65 in Chapter Four, Harness Your Stubbornness. Harnessing your stubbornness applies to digging up root balls too.
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