Big Ditch

Even though my mother had perfect attendance during her own school years when I was growing up she ok’d one “mental health” day each semester.


These were the days we were able to skip school and just be, relax and recharge.  I’ve always been grateful my sister and I had the ability to have a parental-endorsed break.


Today we continued the tradition of the mental health day.


Even though we have boxes to unpack, garage sale items to post to Craigslist, a business to upgrade and countless other things that keep me up sleepless at night, today we ran away.


And when we run away, we do it right.  After an early church service we spontaneously decided to drive several hours and visit the Grand Canyon!


The girls called it the “big ditch.”  Dos was much more impressed with the chipmunks running around than the depth of the hole in the ground while Uno kept asking if we were going on a helicopter ride and we kept a solid grip on Tres to make sure she didn’t venture over the side of a cliff.


For Lizard and I, seeing the wonder of the Grand Canyon on a day we stole from so many other tasks was liberating.  The majesty and stillness of space reminded me of Henry David Thoreau and Waldon:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”


There is something so raw, so real about this quote it has echoed through our cultural consciousness for years.  Not to get all Dead Poet’s Society on you, but who really, deep down inside, wants to finish even a day of their life and realize they never lived up to their potential?


When I worked with college students I had to shake my head at those who would stay up all night on facebook the night before an exam or ditch classes regularly.  They would get poor marks and then say, “Well, I could have gotten an A but…”


My inner question when I heard a weak excuse was: “Why are you afraid to give it your all?”


True, if you give a project your all and it still comes in short that may mess with your ego and ability to move forward in the future…


But why sabotage yourself with a mediocre performance just so you have the safety net of a circumstantial excuse?


In my mind, that’s an even “bigger ditch” than the Grand Canyon because not only do you hurt your own life but if you don’t do the work you’re called to do, you damage your community.


During our mental health day I realized I’ve personally been offering some circumstantial, weak excuses lately.


True, there has been a significant emotional upheaval in my life, a physical upheaval as we lost our jobs and moved across the country, a spiritual upheaval because our most recent Godly anchors (friends/pastors) are distant… but are those really proper excuses for not living deliberately?


I don’t buy it.


Why should I allow myself to drift through life, buffeted by circumstances, when I am perfectly capable of living intentionally and meaning it (whatever my it may be)?


In addition to my thoughts and conviction running as deep as the big ditch, I’m happy to report our mental health day reinstated a hit and miss sound in our family lately: laughter!


From Uno singing the word “cow” to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner and calling it “The Natural Anthem” to Dos waking up from sound sleep to look out the window and yell, “Cow!” then falling directly asleep again, or Tres chasing a chipmunk chanting, “Dog, dog, dog!,” it was nice to pull back together, experience something amazing and come back to our little corner of the world refreshed and ready to conquer the tasks once more.


Those are the thoughts this evening.  Hope they mean something.


I would normally ask you to rate or share this post here in this ending text… but tonight I’m going to ask something else.  I challenge you to take one area of your life where you know you’re giving second-best and decide to take the risk of giving it your all.  Let me know what it is in the comments – and how you’re doing with the challenge a week from now!

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3 thoughts on “Big Ditch

  • July 11, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I don’t see an option for 100 stars! I gave it 5, but that’s just not enough on this one!

  • July 12, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    When my family went to Yellowstone several years ago, my brother also enjoyed the chipmunks the most. 🙂 Otherwise, I have to say that I am currently working really hard to put my all into my current job as the Activities Coordinator at my favorite day camp. I certainly enjoy the work, but I am a perfectionist, and I am afraid to step on toes. Therefore, it has been difficult for me to learn to be assertive in my responsibilities (mainly, keeping the teen counselors from being too irresponsible and keeping the adult counselors from exercising too much authority). It is truly exciting to see how much God has been teaching me about people, but I know that I still have so much more to learn. Thank you for reminiding me to continually give my all!

  • July 12, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I want to be more intentional about meaningful activities with the kids these last few days of summer.


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