Have you ever used a pickax? The first time I ever used one was to create a ditch for a french drainage system on one side of the house. In the Bay Area, the soil is generally some type of clay. When it rains, it’s mud. But when it’s dry all bets are off. It’s as hard as rock. I lost a lot of weight that summer, hauling ass with the pickax trying to break up the ground.
So this is how I see it. I have a pickax and I’m at a cave entrance on the side of an impossibly tall mountain. I use the pickax to delve deeper into the cave. Salty sweat pours from my forehead and gets into the mouth. My sunglasses fog up and end up on the ground because they become a damn nuisance. Who needs sunglasses in a cave anyway. And after a long series of rhythmic strikes against the rock all I can see for my troubles is maybe a 3-inch indentation in the rock. Profanities abound.
Stubbornly or foolishly or some symbiosis of the two I continue to strike the rock. Eventually I discover various veins, interesting ores worth exploring. Some are just as hard as anything the pickax has sliced through, but others yield easier to the rhythmic strokes. Riches come into reach. Encouraged, I take more chances and pick harder at some of the most stubborn veins. More riches. I try to put them to good use and keep digging. The urge to stop and lament my lack of progress or shout to scorn the wall that gives only 3 inches at a time diminishes. The trick, it seems, is not to look back, but always forward. Keep the rhythm, and move.
Seems to have worked. Because now when I look back, one year later, I can see that the 3 inches at a time has turned into a windy path in the side of the mountain, a world of my own creation. And on the ground I can see footprints. Folks have come by to check out my work. Makes one smile. But I don’t stand for long. I crank up the jazz, grab the pickax, and start digging some more.
The work continues.
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