Life is precious and when it’s over, it’s over. It is what it is. We don’t want to stand or sit here and think about the time we wasted on silliness and foolishness. Our clock continues to tick. We can’t erase past or present mistakes. We can only learn from the takeaways of those lessons and add value to the life we have yet to live.
As I was pulling out some files I had in storage from years ago, I came across a sheet I handed out when I served as a Regional Manager in my territory. As I sifted through these forgotten files, I came upon one of the sheets that made a profound statement at that time. Well, while the author is unknown, the message is still clear and on point today, while the lessons remain a colorful reminder at that.
So, on this Throwback Thursday, I present to you this lesson about “The Vegetable Garden.”
THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
First plant five rows of peas: Patience Promptness Preparation Perseverance Purity
Next, plant three rows of squash: Squash gossip Squash criticism Squash indifference
Then plant five rows of lettuce: Let us be faithful Let us be unselfish Let us be loyal Let us be true to obligations Let us love one another
And no garden is complete without turnips: Turn up for work on time Turn up with a smile Turn up with eagerness to perform your duties Turn up with determination to make everything good and worthwhile.
Yesterday, what turned into a celebration of life for one of my first cousins, who happened to be the oldest on her maternal and paternal sides, was of course a sad occasion, but turned into something more amazing. My cousin Alice was a walking, talking archive of history, and a well-rounded humanitarian. I’m not just saying that because we were related. We shared commonalities but there was so much I never knew because we didn’t talk about each other’s monumental accomplishments when we got together.
My dear cousin began her professional career in education, first as a teacher, then as an assistant principal, then as a personnel administrator. Guided by unwavering faith, she was a distinguished leader in the community. Her accolades could not be measured because there were so many things she did so unselfishly for so many and never boasted about them. But, as people shared their memories of her, it blew my mind how much she served others and the sacrifice she made for so many, never complaining about it. She wore some BIG shoes, and oh my goodness, what big shoes she left.
When we say, “Those are some big shoes to fill,” we don’t talk about the shoe size someone wore, but how hard the next person would have to work in order to match the previous person’s standards because they raised the bar of achievement. But we can never fill someone else’s shoes. We have our own shoes to fill. We have a divine purpose in this life. Of course, our days won’t always be a bed of roses because there are thorns among those blossoms. But the impact we make and the work we do, let it speak for us. As novelists would say, don’t just tell your audience the story, show them.
We have been given gifts, talents, and tools to use in order to contribute to mankind and womankind that will lift up and produce fruitfulness. What is it that you can do to fill your shoes in a positive and productive way?
So, as we stood at the Beaufort National Cemetary yesterday, where my grandfather and so many of my elders who served in the military are buried, I am reminded of the incredible lineage I come from and the big shoes these teachers filled. A line on my cousin’s obituary read, “Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise.” So I am encouraged to remain committed to the purpose I must serve, and become a better person. I ask myself this ever-evolving question, “How will I leave a positive impression and contribution to society?” As I walk to the beat of a different drummer, I have my own shoes to fill but don’t we all?
“That which is has already been, and what is to be, has already been; And God requires an account of what is past.” -Ecclesiastes 3:15
History. We read about it, hear about it, and have lived it, but have we truly paid attention and learned the critical lessons from it? Have we simply said that was in the past, from such an antiquated time? Or, do we become proactive, learning the lessons of times gone by, never to repeat those mistakes or any atrocities that can easily flare up again, which could destroy a culture, people, or the spirit?
The past cannot be rewritten unless you are writing a novel or a fictional period-piece film. Nor can you sanitize atrocities of the past that came to seek, kill and destroy. We rise from the ashes to never again succumb to those destructive things. We must choose to become better than those wounds and abuses that tried to destroy us. We learn and then learn some more. We don’t take things for granted by refusing to heed the warnings of the present events that could tragically annihilate us for years to come. We are birthed from uncertainty, but our direction and path are the way to probability and possibility. So, for today, walk in peace my friends. Remember the past, but don’t linger there, grow from it.
“One bad chapter doesn’t mean your story is over.” -Anonymous
We are human, and all of us will certainly have some chapters in our lives that we wish we could rewrite. While those chapters may be frustrating, humiliating, or depressing, this doesn’t mean that you should throw the baby out with the bathwater. You may need to stop and recalibrate. If you can readjust your methods, situations, or environment, then do so.
Writers have editors and proofreaders who go through their work to make corrections throughout their manuscripts. While we may not be able to rewrite some stuff we have gone through, we can certainly use those lessons to rearrange what is needed and then get back on track to writing new and invigorating chapters of hope and promise. Hey, this is your life, and you certainly have some say-so in it.