The Windrow

July 20, 2014 § 2 Comments

Vincent van Gogh, 1887

Sometimes, while Willis worked a mindless task in a field of wheat, he’d make things up. Like how he might go about building a rocket ship or how to carve a baseball bat that would send a ball farther. He’d try to figure out how things worked – anything. He wanted to know what made things go; what made them tick, whir, move fast or move slow. How a kernel of wheat turned into one of his Mama’s fine loaves of bread.

Sometimes, though, he’d get tired and he’d just be there, grimy and hot in the sun, looking at this enormous piece of land he had to tend, and just like any young boy, he’d feel overwhelmed. And he’d think, ‘I’ll never get this done. I’ll never get to do anything else. Ever. I’ll be here in this field for the rest of my life, until the cows come home and go back and come home again’. And that’s how he felt today.

Seeing Will slumped unproductively, his father came by and said, “Son, you’ve just got to take it one windrow at a time, is all. It won’t be so bad.”

“But there are so many rows Dad! I’ll never get it done!”

“Willis, you will get it done and you’ll do it right. I don’t want to hear you complainin’.”

Sheepishly, Will replied with an obedient “Yes, Dad.”

After a pause, Charles sat down next to Will. He looked at him harshly. Took a deep breath. And then, in a kinder tone, Charles said “Alright. Listen now. Hear what I’ve got to say. I’m gonna tell you this, and you think about it while you work. So listen.

When you stand here and look out ‘cross this big ol’ field, you see there’s lots and lots and lots of ground you’ve got to work. It looks like it’s near impossible and it’s too much for you to do. Yes, now I know it’s big. But I tell you son, if you stop looking at how big it is, and just start right in with what’s right there in front of your eyes ~ right here, under your feet ~ and you just take care of that one spot, well right away you’ll be done with that spot and you’ll be movin’ on to the next one. Pretty soon you’ll have a whole row done. And then it won’t look quite so big anymore. If you just look at one of these rows, instead of all of them at once, you won’t get so tired before you’ve even got started. You’re only tired thinking about it, and then nothin’ gets done and it’s still just as big as before.

Now I want you to remember that, because there ain’t nothin’ in life that’s so big it can’t be done if you just start from right where you are and don’t get scared off by the size of it.

All you’ve got to do is one windrow at a time. That’s all you got to think about right now. Just this one. That’s right. Now, go on.”

Charles stood, walked away, then over his shoulder he added, “And Willis? You just might build that rocket ship one day. It might even be the best rocket ship ever made, because you’re gonna build it one piece at a time.”


 © Patricia Saxton, from “The Story”


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