Don't Nibble at It!
Updated: Jul 12, 2019
My grandfather loved to teach a lesson from anything when I was growing up. We spent a lot of time fishing, and working on projects around his house, and endless hours in his garden, and each time we took on a new project, there was a small lesson to be learned. Sometimes the lesson was obvious, and other times, the lesson was much more obscure. My grandfather passed this trait down to my father, and he in turned passed it down to his children, and now, if I am doing anything with my daughter, in the garden, on the computer, playing chess or doing homework, I feel the need to have there be a small lesson in everything we do. It might be about how to treat people, or how to reason, or how if you do this, I’ll do that, but the need to teach these lessons are engrained in my very DNA.
My favorite lesson came from Babe Crawford, my grandfather, on an unbearably hot East Texas day, just 200 yards from Lake Sam Rayburn, where we had fished earlier that morning. Our typical routine was to head down to the boat around 5:30 in the morning, lure some tasty large mouth bass in to the boat by 8:30 and then head home to clean fish and eat breakfast. After breakfast, we would head to his garden where okra, squash, and cantaloupe grew and black berries as big as a grown mans thumb were trellised and in need of weeding and watering. This particular day followed a rain from the night before, and the humidity hung in the air so thick, I was sure we would not be able to breath. But as breakfast wound down, Babe grabbed two hoes, and we walked down the sticky asphalt road to his garden spot. The rain from the day before had multiplied the weeds exponentially, and the task seemed insurmountable to a thirteen year old boy. I did not speak of my misery, as this was not my role in our relationship, but I made my poor attitude known with heavy sighs, and a poor attempt at hacking at a few random weeds. Sweat poured off me after just a few moments in the sun, and I was sure at any moment, my grandfather would recognize his miscalculation, and hurry us home to avoid the inevitable heat stroke. Instead he worked at a steady pace, while I personally did more damage to the vegetables than the weeds. After about 15 minutes, he called a break for some ice water, and we walked a few steps to the shade of a pine tree. As we sat down and I gulped at the Coleman jug my grandfather said “Son, you can slowly whack at those weeds for the next two hours, or you can concentrate on the task at hand, and we can finish this up and go home. Remember this, If you have to eat a turd, don’t nibble at it.”
I must admit that I did not really understand the point he was making at the time. I was so surprised that I had just heard my Deacon grandfather use profanity for the first time that the lesson was almost missed all together. But over the years that day has come back to me many times, when the task at hand seemed daunting.
The Bottom Line: If ever there are words to live by they are “If you have to eat a turd, don’t nibble at it”.