Grandpa’s Shovel


It was the morning light that got me to look over at it. I had not used it in some time. Grandpa’s shovel. Symbolic it sat on a pile of dirt in the corner of the gate. He gave it to me years ago – told me it will keep me sane. I believe it has…

I was just a little kid, Grandpa would be in the garden yelling all sorts of angry stuff and digging a hole. The grand-kids thought he was nuts. We never asked – he never told. He’d just come in after all tired and grab a smoke and a coffee. I was about 9 and had a true butt kicking. Grandpa handed me the shovel and told me; “dig yourself a hole. Keep diggin’ it till you can’t dig no more. Dig it till you ain’t feelin’ no anger. Don’t worry about how big it is or what the hell you will do with it. Tell it everything that comes to your mind, scream it on in there, until your lungs hurt.” He handed me the shovel and I dug. I cried and screamed into the hole until I had blisters forming on my fingers. I could not dig anymore.  Grandpa came over and asked me how long it took me? He knew it was hours. He then asked me after looking at the size of the hole – did I think it was worth all the time I gave it? Did I feel better? I had to be honest after my hands began to hurt and say; “not really.” He then asked what I was going to do with it? Did I have something to plant? I was mad at him because he told me not to worry about that. He then said; “the thing about it is – all that time we give anger, we dig ourselves a big hole inside. Then after we do it, we don’t have anything to fill it with. We wind – up falling right in if we’re not careful.” He then went on to tell me that it feels really good to let it all out. Get that anger on out. It’s safe to do it like that. But… it also puts it all into perspective. It makes us step back after and truly see how angry we were and wonder how and why we got to that point. All we can do then is either plant something – or fill it. He then laughed and said; “how the hell do ya think your Grandma got all them trees and roses!” Grandpa also told me to be careful to make sure that if I plant something – I change my intention. He said add a little love in the soil so what ever grows spreads that through the earth – not your anger.


I had quite a few flowers bloom from a space of tears or anger. These days – I only use the shovel to turn the soil and plant with loving intentions. I may pass it on one day with the story if need be. Right now though – it sits waiting for a sunny day and a promise that only a plant may bring of tomorrows.