I enjoy poetry, and this afternoon I picked up a book from the “Poetry for Young People” series edited by Gary D. Schmidt. This particular book in the series is the poetry of Robert Frost, and his poetry makes me smile.
“A Girl's Garden” tells the story of a young girl who talks her father into giving her a little bit of ground for a garden, and the garden she plants with “a little bit of everything, a great deal of none.”
That sounds like a description of my life! Sometimes I think I've done a little bit of everything, a great deal of none. When our kids were little at home, I'd look around at all the things I'd done that day, and wonder what I'd actually accomplished.
Progress always seemed to come so slowly – the remodeling projects, the new tooth, the potty training – and the knowledge of how much there was left to do was often overwhelming.
Now that our kids have established their own homes and I'm left to my own devices, I think about that phrase sometimes. The trouble with having done “a little bit of everything, a great deal of none” is thinking I know more than I really do.
Frost makes that point at the end of his poem when he says
“Now when she sees in the village
How village things go,
Just when it seems to come in right,
She says, 'I know!
“It's as when I was a farmer -- “
Oh, never by way of advice!
And she never sins by telling the tale
To the same person twice.”
The girl with the garden clearly took her limited gardening experience and based her understanding – and her comments – on it. I think I do the same thing – believe I understand a thing based on my own limited experiences.
So what shall I do? Experience surely counts for something, but not for everything. Maybe I just need to take a lesson from the girl with the garden, and be sure I don't “tell the tale to the same person twice.”
Or just remember I don't know as much as I think I know!