One Bite at a Time

I like to keep busy, but sometimes I tend to overdo it a bit. Kathy would say “more than just a bit.” But something about starting things and seeing them through appeals to me. As a result, projects tend to overlap sometimes. 

Recently, I started in on a big one. It’s the kind of thing that you just look at, day-after-day, because you know it’s going to take awhile. You have to work up to it. 

We’ve accumulated a fairly massive pile of large to medium size trees that had been cut down. One was a huge 100 year old Oak tree, almost four feet in diameter that had died, and the large upper branches were breaking off. This was a problem, if you were wanting to walk underneath it. 

Another was a slightly smaller (but still pretty big) Hickory tree that had died in the drought a couple of years ago. This wasn’t as big a danger, but we still didn’t want it to come down in the pond. So we had the guys pull them both down for us. It was pretty impressive, seeing how fast they both came down. Especially for such massive trees. 

Since we burn wood in the winter, I just asked them to pile it all up for me. Easy for them, with a Bob Cat and a dump truck. Impossible for me. They brought it all around to the wood pile and stacked it up like a big box of massive Tinker Toys someone dumped out.  

The rest of the pile was a mixed bag of scrub trees that were in the way when we ran the lane down to the shooting range earlier this year. The other crew added these to the big pile, and by now, it was a BIG pile. 

Over the past few months, I’ve had to look at it. This last month, I’ve had to mow around it. Grass is growing up inside it. It’s a really big pile, and it’s going to take days of chain saw cutting, and days of splitting. I just couldn’t seem to get started. 

But ultimately, I couldn’t take it anymore. Something flipped inside my head. That old riddle kept coming to mind: “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.” Obviously, no one can eat an elephant. The point is to take massive jobs and break it up into smaller ones. Like a big pile of wood. 

So I spent the first session getting my chain saw ready. 24″ bar? Check. Half used chain, and a fresh one? Check. Whoops, no engine oil to mix with the gas. A trip to town for oil and a gallon of gas. Check. 

I finally spent an hour and a half on it Sunday afternoon. Another hour Monday morning, and another on Tuesday afternoon. It still doesn’t look like I made much of a dent. But I know that if I keep hacking away at it, I’ll eventually get there. 

Just like someone trying to lose 80-100 lbs. it’s not going to happen overnight. You’ve got to take one bite at a time. Or maybe the reverse of that. Maybe skip one bite at a time. Take one walk at a time. But you’ve got to get started somewhere. 

Remember the elephant. One bite at a time. Right now, I’ve got to go; my wood pile’s waiting.

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