NOTHING IS TOO SMALL; NOTHING IS TOO BIG

Sullivan was disappointed at what his old man left him as an inheritance.

Not that he expected to get the bull share of what he left behind. But how could he have imagined that he’ll be given such a trifle?

His father Truman had passed away a couple of months ago, having lived till the ripe age of 80. He died a wealthy man with a good number of holdings, businesses and property to his name.

But of all there was to give away, the only thing that came to him was a document for a parcel of land in his name and with a note attached to it.

The note read, ‘value this inheritance; there is more to it than you think’.

As though the mockery wasn’t enough, he discovered that the land was located in the hinterland.

He considered what to do with a parcel of land in the middle of nowhere. “It wouldn’t even fetch a good price to start a small business if I decide to sell it off.”

Just to think that Billy, the family’s black sheep, had cut a better deal while he got next to nothing for his meritorious service to Truman.

For all he cared, his late father never meant well for him.

Seeing that he’ll never need it, he decided to transfer its ownership to Ryan, an old acquaintance of his who lived there.

He’ll rather give it out for free than sell it. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

It was a fortunate Ryan to whom Sullivan bequeathed the property. He had been desirous of acquiring a piece of land where he could farm and sink a well to water the crops. He set to work immediately and engaged the services of a couple of labourers who began to dig.

They hadn’t dug for too long when one of the labourers called Ryan’s attention to a curious find: It was a sprinkling of metallic elements of a deep, rich yellow colour.

I think you just struck gold Mr Ryan, one of the labourers informed him.

The moral?

Be grateful, even for the seemingly little things.

LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR FIRST DRAFTS

Why are you trying to attain perfection with your first drafts?

Remember the parable of the wheat and tares?

You can learn a thing or two from it as a writer…

So Mr Bull went with his farmhands to his large farm in the countryside to plant wheat. Much later, his farmhands went to the farm and discovered that tares were shooting out among the wheat.

“What would you have us do, boss?” They asked on their return. “Uproot the tares from among the wheat while it’s still growing?”

“What! Don’t do that!” Was the farmer’s passionate appeal.

“While you are busy uprooting the tares, you are likely to uproot or do damage to some of the wheat in the process.

Just let them grow together till the wheat are ready for harvesting. You can then take out the tares and burn them while you gather the wheat into the barn.”

Moral of the ‘story’?

Trying to attain perfection with your first draft can be counterproductive.

You see, the wheat in the story can be likened to the rich content that constitutes your write-up. Meanwhile, the tares are elements that (seem to) make it redundant or ineffective (grammar, meaning, structural or punctuation errors).

Unless you are an exceptionally good writer, your first draft shouldn’t be ideal.

As you plant wheat in the process of writing, tares will always rear their ugly head. Nowadays, when I write, I just allow the tares to grow with the wheat.

In essence, I have learnt not to revise my writing until I’m done with my first draft.

Ideas are the wheels on which the writer’s creative engine run. Sometimes, they come to you in form of a muse or an inspiration bug and in the least expected places or circumstances too.

So when they come, you begin to write. Meanwhile, as a perfectionist, as you write…

  • You try to read along to be sure your expressions are concise and apt.
  • You see a word that doesn’t fit a context and change it.
  • An expression looks funny and you begin to think of a substitute.
  • You wonder if the comma (,) after the ‘and’ is necessary or should be omitted.
  • You consider making a passive statement into an active one to make it more effective.

And it goes on…

At the end of the day,

  • You spend double (or more) the time you ought to have written your work.
  • You ruin large chunks of the work and may need to start afresh.
  • You overdo the editing till it loses its flourish.
  • You put yourself through much mental activity and pressure.
  • You begin to doubt the credibility of the work altogether and abandon it.
  • You lose the inspiration for the writing and it dies an untimely death.

Truth is there will always be a better way to present your thoughts, a better way to compose them. Sometimes, as you write, the more you see (and need to perfect), the less impressed you get.

And you’ll keep making endless futile efforts to make it better.

Let the tares grow with the wheat in the meantime.

Allow your words flow through your hands without casting a second glance at them until you are done.

When you have gotten out all the ideas and the draft is done, allow it to sit for a while before revision.

Then patiently and carefully uproot the ‘tares’.

You’ll be surprised what a healthy and bountiful harvest you’ll have!


How/when do you edit your write-ups? While at it or after you’ve finished writing?

What works best for you? Do share with us in the comment section.

BE GOOD ANYWAY

Perhaps it’s a Nigerian thing, but in my clime, we have a habit of asking people to partake of our meal. You come across as uncultured when you don’t beckon on those around you to share your food with you.

Of course, on most occasions, the act is merely perfunctory. The one who invites you doesn’t mean it. Deep down, he doesn’t want you to shorten his ration. He is only fulfilling all righteousness.

Meanwhile, the norm is that those called to join in the meal will decline the offer. The call is just a display of courtesy or social grace by the caller. Only on rare occasions will you see someone who takes the offer literally and partake.

Well, I was once a victim of such an exception to the norm and it wasn’t funny.

I’ll share the story with you…

It was back in my high school days, during one of our break times. I had visited the food vendor and bought a place of rice for lunch.

Rather than go to an isolated place to enjoy my meal, I chose to sit among my peers, right at the vendor’s stand. As expected, I feigned niceness by calling them to partake of my meal.

Guys, join me in eating o, I mumbled

Hardly had the words left my mouth when the rascals descended on my food. Cutlery materialised from nowhere. Those who couldn’t get one nearby helped themselves to the food with bare hands. Before I could spell ‘goodness’, my precious meal was over. The foodlums had cleared the plate of the last grain.

I doubt if I had 4 spoonfuls before it finished. I was hungry for the rest of the school day.

That day, I made a promise to myself never to ask a soul to partake of my meal going forward, even if such an individual really needs it. Never again!

You find it cruelly hilarious, right? Well, it was infuriating at the time.

I shared the experience because I wanted you to have a good laugh. We live in difficult times, so we can do with some humour now and again.

However, beyond the humour, there is a message to draw from the story.

That incident made me resolve never to ask anyone to partake of my meal – not even someone in dire need of something to eat.

Once bitten twice shy. I had been nice to folks and they had taken advantage of it. They made me feel miserable for my good gesture, and this pushed me to the extreme.

I wasn’t upset because they dared to eat the food with me. After all, I invited them to partake of it. What incensed me was that they went overboard in their participation. What happened to leaving a good share of the meal for the owner to eat?

The experience brought out the worst in me.

Bringing it Home

It happens to the best of us. In most cases, the circumstances will be weightier than that of the experience I shared…

  • You lend people money and most do not pay it back.
  • You give counsel to a friend and it backfires on you.
  • You go the extra mile for someone and they end up rubbishing your effort.
  • You are always been nice to people but you seem to be always treated unfairly…

Then you say, Never again!

Sometimes things happen to work out in a way that makes us feel just as happy and fulfilled as the individual we served, but not always. But in those less than satisfying moments when our master plan falls just short of fruition it is important for us to remember that it was about them and not about us, and that although we may not have witnessed the final result or understood the way it played out, we did good for someone, somehow, and that is what matters most

Alexa Doncsecz

Truth is, we do not have control over how people respond to our good deeds. Some will be grateful for it while others will make us feel like fools for it. We, however, can control our reactions to their responses.

No matter what, never regret an act of kindness, even when it goes south. Just some respond unfairly to acts of kindness doesn’t make being kind outdated.

Know these, Know Peace…

  • No matter how small, an act of kindness never go unnoticed.
  • It’s never about you but entirely about the other.
  • Never have high expectations concerning the good you do. People will be people.
  • Not everyone appreciates kindness. Some are just terrible humans.
  • The reward for your good deed will not always come from the recipients.
  • Be kind anyway. Sometimes, the thought of your goodness is all the satisfaction you need.
  • It doesn’t always have to come with a reward.
  • Being kind isn’t the same as being gullible, stupid and vulnerable.
  • Be discerning. Know those who only want to take advantage of you, and avoid them.
  • God’s the rewarder of all.

Cheers!

I Hope

I hope you never settle for the path of least resistance. I hope.

I hope you come to know the difference between complacency and contentment.

I hope you never give up on those legitimate dreams – not settling for less.

I hope you keep putting in the required effort and work even as you pray and hope.

I hope you acknowledge that there is more to life than merely surviving and getting by.

I hope you see each challenge as a learning curve and an opportunity to grow.

I hope you are not full of excuses – easily explaining away your incompetencies.

I hope you learn to take well-calculated and informed risks.

I hope you don’t live life to chances and submit to blind fate. I sincerely hope.

I hope you don’t expect money to fall off a tree like ripe cherries. I hope.

I hope you don’t stay too long in that fool’s paradise called ‘comfort zone’.

I hope you don’t feel entitled to the fruit of another man’s labour – living on handouts.

I hope you endure that rough and crooked road till you burst out on Glory Lane.

I hope you won’t look back in time and regret the chances you didn’t take or the opportunities you passed by.

I hope you don’t live for JUST today.

I hope you maximise your potentials and be all that you can ever be.

I really hope!