Friday, June 06, 2008

Stop talking; start doing

The saying goes that “talk is cheap.” That probably depends on whether or not the talker is a government official. If so, his/her talk might cost you a stack of bills.

During this campaign season, we’ve all had to wade through a logjam of candidates, both local, and national, all talking about the things they’re going to do. No politician is ever going to say he opposes education. Yet, when they say that they’re for educational attainment, how do we know that the candidate is going to push through a program to teach soft skills, for instance, preparing students for the real world, versus supporting much of what’s wrong with No Child Left Behind?

My current position that pays my bills requires me to go to more meetings than I’ve ever attended in my life. Many of these meetings are with people that have been in the public sector for a much longer time than I have. While many of these colleagues are good people, I think, there seems to more talk, and not a lot of action.

My grandfather was a doer. I don’t know if he ever went to any meetings, other than church on Sunday. He was a woodsman, farmer, and in his earlier days, worked at the Worumbo Mill, in Lisbon Falls in the dye room. Days where he regularly worked 16 to 18 hours were the norm. In the agrarian days of the 19th and 20th century, men, and women knew the value of work. Life was about doing, not talking.

Raised up in a culture where doing was valued, I got away from doing during my 20s, and early 30s. I forgot how to move things forward. It’s only been the last five, or six years that I’ve rediscovered the joy that comes from setting a goal, and seeing it realized. With that comes a sense of empowerment.

One of the reasons why having a garden is good, besides the wonderfully fresh produce that results, is that it is a way to stay connected to an agrarian past when getting something done was a way of life, and a rite of survival. No garden, no food. No food, no life; simple, but basic.

Several years ago, when I was writing for the late, great Portland Pigeon, a free monthly, one of my first essays was on being DIY (Do It Yourself). I have looked for that essay in some of my old files, and on floppies collecting dust, but I can’t find it. Basically, my premise was that people needed to stop talking, and start doing. At the time, I was doing activist work, and too much of my time was spent in meetings, with people interested in talking, rather than doing.

Do you want to change the world? Find one small thing that needs changing, and get it done. Think you have something to say, but lack a platform to get the word out—start a blog, or write a book. Tired of paying high food prices, for over-processed food, then find a corner of grass and plant a small garden.

It all sounds simple, but profundity can be found in the simplest of acts.

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