Picking Away At Myself

The following article is my attempt at answering The Sandbox Writing Challenge — Exercise 5


Okay. My spade, my shovel and my digging forks are poised. Yes, gulp, I have several of each tool.

When I was younger – I wasn’t that young that I didn’t have a family (admittedly my eldest son had only just started primary school) – a director of the organisation I worked for insisted on signing off on my yearly appraisal and adding this comment:

“Kelvin is the kind of person who, if he sees a hill of excrement, will not act like other people. He won’t walk around it, pondering. Neither will he walk up to it and prod it with a stick. Neither will he walk around and around it, then manage or participate in ring-fencing it. No, Kelvin will stomp right up to it and wade right in. He will stomp around until he gets to the heart of the problem then he will share what he finds with his superiors so together everyone might find the best solution.”

I am unsure if this analogy sprang from some management book of the eighties or the nineties, however it doesn’t really matter. That director, who had an interesting an unusual name (which to share with you might get me into trouble), captured the essence of me.

Nowadays, I would like to think if I were still in multi-million pound cutting edge engineering, that before I stomped right in to those hills of excrement we tend to cover problems with until they become a mountain we cannot move, I would wear PPE first (Personal Protection Equipment – googles, boots, gloves, heck – a deep sea diver’s suit!) I would also like to think I would check the surroundings to make sure any onlookers were well back and didn’t get splattered by the proverbial hitting the fan – unless they wanted to be in the way, of course.

These days, having written this, I would also like to think I pray before acting and after thinking. That I would keep my thoughtfulness, prayerfulness and action in proportion to each other, while never losing sight of the undeniable truth that mountains, be they made of rocks or Sugar Honeyed Iced Tea, can be moved by faith and love.

The ingredient this director’s analogy seems to identify in me is: I am a man of action.

Digging deeper, I would also like to think I am reliable. I do those tasks others fear. I am not afraid of working alone in adverse conditions (I view writing as one of these areas where I have to face down my monsters every day – monsters who bang and crash and can roar that these words I am writing are rubble, and will never form part of that building I am the architect, builder (bricklayer, roofer, plumber, electrician, carpenter, plasterer, double-glazer) and inspector for.

Digging even deeper, I discover:

I am disciplined yet creative;

I am playful yet serious;

I am patient, yet sometimes I am intense;

I am energetic, yet it must be channelled.

Substituting my shovel and spade for a pickaxe and chiselling away at the bedrock of me, I find these nuggets:

I am a listener, conscious of not losing their voice;

I am strong, whether I want to be or not;

I am gentle;

I cannot help sharing;

I just cannot stop caring;

I am akin to these grains of sand slipping through my fingers.

400-9.3 Sand Grains Magnified 300 Times.jpg

Grains of sand magnified 300x courtesy of Dr Gary Greenberg



5 thoughts on “Picking Away At Myself

  1. Well, I’m fascinated. You identify many character traits that no doubt describe you well. But you don’t mention the one that makes you very different indeed from most people, and that is that you are a mystic. You intuit truths in a way that most people can’t. This mysticism, when harnessed by your word-smithing skills, is what drives the best of your writing, in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First, let me say that I LOVE your play on words (if that is what I’m thinking it was) at the top of your post, “Picking away at myself.” Very clever. More clever is how you bounded (with care and thought) right into this rather head-scratching exercise. So I can see how it is that your Director described you in the way that he did. Of course, with experience and age, we refine ourselves so that you now take time to pause before jumping in. Well done, Kelvin!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. OMW!! That picture is amazing! Really? That’s what sand looks like? How awesome is that? And it illustrates your point so well. There’s so much inside of us that others can’t discern. We are just as amazingly designed as that picture. I loved what you said about “I am strong, whether I want to be or not;” I am finding that same thing in me through this journey with an autoimmune disorder. There have been so many times I’ve been discouraged and just wanted to give up and stay in bed for days. But I can’t. And I’m not sure what makes me that way. I loved your post, Kelvin.!

    Liked by 2 people

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