honest songs, honestly sung
singer and songwriter ben bruce

blog > Just Keep Digging

Oct 19th, 2010

Some of my great heroes have talked about learning lessons from their gardens; but I never understood it like I did the day I went to harvest potatoes.

I’ve looked for potato seeds for years — every spring when I’m dreaming of my elusive vegetable garden — but they never have them at Lowe’s and that’s as far as the effort goes.

Last spring I was complaining about that and my mother told me, “Oh, you just throw those bits of potato with a little growth on them and they grow into new potatoes.” Ah!

I had a likely candidate — a russet with lots of little growths on it — and I chopped it up and my son and I “planted” them. I didn’t know how far underground to put them, or how much water to give them or any of that, so I used the age old rule of “just let nature take its course.”

Last weekend we went out to the garden. He grabbed his mini-​shovel and I grabbed my big one. We went over to the patch of ground and started digging — well, I started digging, and he playfully flung gravel from our driveway into our car. The first few shovelfuls of dirt were just dirt, and I realized I didn’t remember where I’d planted the potatoes.

I moved. A few more shovelfuls. You know, dirt is heavy. This was turning into work. And I was getting annoyed because the voice in my head was saying, “you didn’t even look up how deep to plant them.” Also, “You just threw those chunks in the dirt, you idiot. Stupid.” My son helpfully asked me where all the potatoes were.

Finally I’d had enough. But there was one more spot where I could see the dirt and I figured I’d finish it off, pathetic as the whole exercise was. When I jabbed the shovel down, I could feel a difference in the soil. It was like I wasn’t pushing through dense dirt this time. Something was different. I dug down deep, and I lifted up the shovel and I turned the whole thing over, and hundreds of potatoes came tumbling out! Well, it was six, and some of them were small, but it was like pounds of gold. My son came running over jumping up and down yelling, “Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes!”

I felt so pleased, and I learned the lessons again: Don’t listen to those voices. Don’t fret about the rules. Don’t stop trying. Let nature take it’s course.

I’m applying this renewed faith to my music, and what do you know … The last shovelful turned over three new songs. I’m going to keep digging.

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