In 1963, dad had been transferred to Kansas City for recruiting duty with the 9th Marine Corps Recruit District. Now a family of five, we moved into nearby Raytown, Missouri. Coming from California, we experienced a very different landscape which included too much ice on the roads and plenty of snow to shovel from sidewalks and driveways.
Dad located ten bales of hay that were useless for horse feed and hauled them to the back corner of our lot by the creek. He laid them tight up against each other on their sides in a five-long by two-wide configuration. He stuck a stick into the first leaf. Throughout that first summer and winter, all the kitchen cuttings went into a slot between two leaves; then the stick was moved to the next. With rain, snow, some sun, and the cooking off from self-ignition, the hay and the cuttings turned into great compost. The next spring, with us present, he planted the seeds and said, “Stand back.” He was almost correct as tomato vines, corn stalks, and sweet peas practically jumped out of the ground.
It took patience, a plan, and perseverance to make the garden work. Dad went out on stormy days. He tramped down there in the heat. In the snow he slogged and slipped down the hill to his duty. He separated seeds from the cutting that were unwanted. He moved the stick a little at a time, always using it as a marker for the progress being made.
Much in our lives is composed of simple tasks repeated. They take nothing more than a grocery list or an on-time departure for school or work. We can do them with one hand tied behind our back. Well, except when driving a car perhaps. Basically, the effort is minimal and the results are the same.
It is far better to add a long-term project with all its complications. We won’t remember the grocery store trip within a few days. We will remember saving up money for a grandchild’s higher education. Fondly, we can understand what five years of daily letters to someone in prison did. An invention to better mankind may take a decade but its effect will be worth the effort.
Interestingly, the process to accomplish the project is not dissimilar to the trip to the grocery store. It is made up of small, dedicated increments done regularly, maybe even on a schedule. Start with the “why” and move to the “what.” See the end goal as you work through the activities that will accomplish it.
Your age doesn’t matter, nor your health. Not even your education matters. (Anything can be learned on YouTube, can’t it?) We are less limited than any time in history.
If you haven’t got the big idea in mind yet, this is a good day to think about it.