Harder Not Smarter

I strike the ground. The blade of the spade recoils back. I change my location. I strike the ground. The blade of the spade hits a rock. I change my location. I strike the ground. The blade of the spade catches a root. I take a step back, assess the situation, and consider my options.

I could soak the ground in water overnight. Don’t have time.

I could use a chain saw to cut out the roots. Don’t have a chain saw.

I could use a shovel. Don’t believe in shovels.

I go to garage, select some Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and press play.

I have made my decision.

I pick up my spade. I strike the ground. And, a bit of Earth gives way to my efforts.

I have my foothold. I begin to dig.

I dig. I dig. I dig.

I dig from the left and then the right.

I dig. I dig. I dig.

A trench begins to form.

I dig. I dig. I dig.

Deeper and deeper it grows.

I pause. It is quiet. I go to the garage, select some Waylon, and press play.

I dig. I dig. I dig.

I grab its trunk. I yank. It does not move.

I dig. I dig. I dig.

I step into the trench to get a better angle.

I dig. I dig. I dig.

I lay on my chest.

I dig. I dig. I dig.

I pause. It is quiet. I go to the garage, select some Travis Tritt, and press play.

I dig. I dig. I dig.

You will yield I tell it.

I dig. I dig. I dig.

I will separate you from this Earth I inform it.

I dig. I dig. I dig.

I will lift you out of this hole I brief it.

I dig. I dig. I dig.

And, I will roll your ass to another part of the yard I notify it.

I dig. I dig. I dig.

I pause. It is quiet.

I grab its trunk. I yank. It moves.

I grow a grin.

I squat down. I wrap my arms around the tangle of roots, rocks and Earth. I secure my grip. I take a couple of breaths. I garner the strength for one last push. And, I heave the twelve year old buddleia out of its hole, set it on the ledge, and roll it a couple feet away.

I sink back into the hole. I am dusted in dirt. It covers my pants, my boots, and my shirt. It cakes the creases of my arms. It smudges my face. And, it packs under my fingernails. But, I feel cleansed. I am cleansed of every worry, every anxiety and every fear.  I have gone to church. And, I have been baptized in dirt.

I am exhausted. Calluses are thickening. Bones are creaking. Blisters are forming. And, muscles are aching. But, I feel rejuvenated. I feel restored. I feel renewed. I am reminded that “Smarter not harder” is not always better.

Don’t get me wrong. It has its merits. But, sometimes we need a reminder of what is possible even when the “smarter” way is not available. We don’t have access to specialized tools. We cannot afford time-saving techniques. And, we have exhausted our wits, our creativity and our genius. It is just us, our goals, and the pure unadulterated work that keeps us apart.

What do we do?

Do we give up? No.

Do we sit on our collective asses and wait for someone “smarter” to give us a solution? No.

We get to work.

We show up early, skip our breaks, take a short lunch, and don’t leave until the job is done.

This is the magical ingredient that separates those who DO from those who DON’T.

It is not the smarts.

We’re all smart.

It is the work.

And, those things that matter, leave a legacy, make a difference, and change you fundamentally take work.

Easy and instantaneous are ephemeral and forgettable.

So, sometimes, I prefer “Harder not Smarter.”

Because, sometimes, I need a reminder of my fundamental strength.

I do not fear work.

Neither should you.

Shawn Humphrey, the Blue Collar Professor (@blucollarprof)

Connect with me on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blucollarprof

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