In a recent newsletter article, author Mary Southerland told about an experience she’d had several years ago. She was living in the mountains of North Carolina (a breathtakingly beautiful part of the country). One of her passions was old-world country stores and the gorgeous handmade “treasures” that filled them.
On one occasion, she was exploring some off roads in search of just such treasure and found herself on a dirt road.
She saw a bearded man sitting on the porch in a rocker with a pile of wooden logs by his side. By the porch railing she noticed a large collection of beautifully carved wooden dogs. The mountain artisan asked her to join him and to feel free to ask any questions.
As she tells it, she had only one, “How in the world do you carve these beautiful dogs out of those ordinary pieces of wood?”
His priceless response? “Well, Missy, it’s pretty simple. I just take me a piece of wood and cut away everything that doesn’t look like a dog.”
Hmph. So I’ve been searching and pondering and pondering and searching for years to put my finger on the secret to self improvement and a man in the mountains of North Carolina knew the secret the entire time?
I can see it now. He’d be sitting across from me at my dining room table. I’d pour him a cup of coffee and give him a slice of Coconut Cake. Hopefully he wouldn’t mind cats, because I’m sure Alexa would be all over him. I’d take a long drink of coffee and ask him, “So, what do you think is the secret to self improvement? Which do you think is more important, positive affirmations, visualization, or motivational speakers? What’s your favorite self help book and who’s your favorite self help author? Have you ever heard of vision boards? How do you feel about mood journals? — What? Oh, yes sir, God did give me the gift of gab. — What’s your favorite motivational quote? How do you feel about goal setting?”
Then, as he finished his Coconut Cake, he’d wipe his mouth and say, “Well, Missy, it’s pretty simple. I just take me a piece of wood and cut away everything that doesn’t look like a dog.”
I’d look at him the way my husband often looks at me, with question marks instead of pupils. I’d start to remind him that this was his approach to making wooden dogs… but then it’d hit me between my question marks. It’s also the way to making the life you want to make.
What if we took a look at our life and cut away everything that didn’t help us to become and be the person we wanted to be? The bad habits, the time-wasters, the worries, etc. You know, the junk! What if we carved away the unproductive and left only the productive?
I think we’d be left with our own little treasure.