To Live Is To Dig Holes

“Where you’ve been is good and gone
All you keep’s the getting there”

Townes Van Zandt To Live Is To Fly

There are many of times that I sit there and wonder, how many places have I actually been? I mean, it’s not such a destination, it’s not a coordinate on a map, it’s a state of mind, it’s a place in your heart, its a location. You can read maps all day long, you can be navigated by complicated devices that tell you where you’re supposed to be, but it never really promises that’s where you belong.

I spend an awful lot of time listening to this particular Townes van Zandt song after my life sort of took a crap about a year and a half ago. I would sit there and spin that record and listen to the lyrics, and certain things started clicking. The first thing was that my sound system was sort of shit and wasn’t giving my man Townes any credit, and two, he was talking about my sort of thing….holes….

“We all got holes to fill
And them holes are all that’s real
Some fall on you like a storm
Sometimes you dig your own”

(a little later in the tune)

I would sit there and listen to this song, and thing about every single freaking hole I dug. All the clay I busted through, all the gravel that I had to maddock up, and more importantly, all the plants that I put in the ground, that I loved, that I had to walk away from. Sure, to most people they’re just plants, they’re shrubs, flowers, trees, whatever, but to me it’s sort of an extension of myself. For many of those holes I got blistered, I got bloodied parts, I sweated, I worked to keep it alive. Most people are only accustomed to digging holes for burying dead things, for me, it’s more about creating life, creating vibrancy, creating hope.

For every hole I dug with my own two arms and hands, I knew that that hole had to be filled with something, sometimes I would dig a hole in the wrong place and have to fill it back in with nothing but soil, but sometimes I would dig a hole and plant something beautiful. There were two magnificent Nutalli Oaks that I planted in my home a few years ago, there was almost an acre and a half of botanical wonderland that I dug holes to create, hell, I even dug a hole to plant a tiny little tomato in my last domicile. The whole thing is every single hole I dug, I planned for, I knew the size to expect, the amount of back fill to add, and what was going into the hole.

“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

And just like those holes that I’ve dug, I’ve watched them wilt and die, but not a single one of them do I regret digging. Every time I would dig a hole, I would expect to nurture that hole for a very long time. I had a wild imagination that there was nothing but the present, that little plant was going to be with me forever. For all the plants that died, for all the plants that got ripped up because they were out of place, for all the plants that were planted too close to others, it was nobodys fault but mine, and I took full responsibility for those holes. Every single time I knew I was trying to force something that wasn’t going to work. Those tropical plants that I was certain I could nurse through a bad winter, those plants that I planted on top of each other thinking they’d be happier, hell, even the concept of growing pumpkins in the shade, I knew they were all failing situations, but I dug those holes anyway.

The fact of the matter was, I dug those holes because I never lost hope. In the face of failure, even when I knew it wasn’t going to work, I did it anyways.

I had ambition, I had hope, I had energy that propelled me to try to make things better, to create, to instill something in the earth that wasn’t there before. Perhaps some people feel the same way when they have birth, perhaps there are some people that feel the same way when they are elected to politics, for me, every time I planted something I felt like I was changing the world. I can cruise by the places that I’ve planted stuff now and see the neglected plants reaching out for help from various yards, and it hurts. It hurts bad.

“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.”
-T.S. Elliot
And that’s what I was happening, all the holes I had dug were whimpering.
They’re still whimpering, but it’s not my problem anymore. The more I thought I about every single hole I dug, it helped me to realize that every shovel swing liberated me more from the polluted mindset I had been in. Every funky mood I’d experience was alleviated by a shovel, every sadness was cured by half dead flowers found at a discount retailer. It was the challenge of survival that I thrived on, much like I feel about my life right now. The struggle is real, and to an extent I believe we all have an extent of one.
There will always be my favorite quotes…whom I forget who ever said it, but it was good enough to write down at one time….
“However, pick your battles, bro.”
I’m not going to battle with holes anymore, I’m not going to impregnate the soil with a hope and a promise for the future, I’m going to work on making the future happen. Holes can stay vacant for all I care.
Lastly, from Mr. Van Zandt:
The choice is yours to make
And time is yours to take
Some dive into the sea
Some toil upon the stone”


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