Encouragement (for Life as well as the Garden)

Gardening and Life in General – One Step (Dish) at a Time

If you’re a long time reader you already know my thoughts on never underestimating the power of a little.

In spite of that, I still need to refresh that concept in my mind when I’m close to being rendered incapable of doing anything by the thoughts of all that has to be done.

Well known by all of us as overwhelm.

Since Bill died, there has been so much for me to do that I stay on the precipice of overwhelm almost all the time. For the sake of survival and most especially for the sake of making myself a better, stronger person — I do everything I can to prevent the fall into that pit.

Drawing from Various Sources

To accomplish that I draw from a variety of sources. Usually articles by others who have or had an awareness of life. And the ability to express what they learned and felt in order that others may benefit from their experiences.

One Unlikely Source

I enjoy the sometimes humorous perspective of Bill Bonner on world finances and events and enjoy subscribing to his “Diary”.

One popped up in my inbox the other day with an article written by one of his associates, Chris Mayer, a financial analyst.

(I wasn’t kidding when I said in a previous post that I draw help and inspiration from the most unlikely sources. And yes, sometimes it’s over my head, but most of the time there’s one simple and meaningful take-away that adds value to my life.)

Mr. Mayer begins the article by telling us that he had been reading a book by Alan Watts.

Rather embarrassed that I didn’t already know who Alan Watts was, I Googled.

  • In brief, Watts (1915-1973) was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker. You can check out his living online library and museum of his works at alanwatts.org/

Anyway – on with my story –

I was delighted to see that Alan Watts had also written a story about the power of a little.

It was just too good not to share. So here it is as quoted by Mr. Mayer along with his introductory words to the quote .

A Mountain of Dishes

“Watts writes about the frustration or dread you may feel upon realizing you have a large or repetitive task ahead of you. He likens it to having a pile of dishes to clean.”

Here are Watts’ — words, from Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life:

“You begin to think as you wash them that you’ve washed dishes for years, and you’re probably going to have to wash dishes for the rest of your life, and then in your mind’s eye you see this prodigious pile of dishes piling up as high as the Empire State Building… and you are appalled and oppressed.

But dispelling this dread isn’t a matter of trying to forget about washing dishes, it is realizing in actual fact you have only one dish to wash, ever: this one; only one step to take, ever: this one.”

Final Thoughts

Soon-coming spring will bring most of us another mountain of dishes.

No matter how long our list,  one step or dish at a time will be how we get the job done.

I’m always thinking of you.


Related Posts:

Never Underestimate the Power of a Little

A Principle for Insurmountable Tasks


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  • Wow! That can be applied to every area of our lives. I too love gardening but my husband because of an injury is not able to contribute as he used to. Being in constant pain, I just don’t expect him to do as he always has, so I too am left with the question of what will I be able to do this year? At 71, I realize all too quickly I am not 20 and indestructible anymore. But, homegrown tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and all the rest take work, and work I shall, until I can no longer lift a hoe. God Bless every gardener out there.

  • “you have only one dish to wash, ever: this one; only one step to take, ever: this one.” Thanks for the reminder.

    Another thing I try to do is to slow down and enjoy the process of “washing the dishes” or whatever else I am doing–as if doing it were the whole point and not the having it done.

  • at 74, I seem to always be in overwhelm!! my thoughts now are should I deal with starting seedlings or just buy them from the High School vocational group. and I look at all the work outside that I will have to tackle in a couple of months!!

  • Oh, Theresa! This is so good! In the last few years, I have become even more weary of the repetitive tasks. But one dish at a time is certainly the best approach to take to those things, and embracing the fact that as long as I am living in this temporal world, there will be repetitive tasks. I vaguely recall reading Alan Watts in college, 40-some years ago. Thank you for bringing him to my attention again.

  • Thank you for this, Theresa…inspiring and a great reminder on being in the now, and as Betty said, actually enjoying the washing! I need to remember this as the spring seed sowing is fast approaching.


  • That’s very good way to look at it Betty. Thank you all for your responses.
    We just bought a homestead that I have prayed for for many years and are just at the beginning. I’m getting it established. So much to do it can be overwhelming. Your flesh wants it all done at once. Even at age 48 I can’t get it done as quickly as I used to and I really want to enjoy the process.

  • Theresa,
    We know when the days get longer we can begin to move around and peep out of our holes. When we do we find what we left clean is messy and what we left messy is worse.
    What to do with all this mess? Give it to Jesus to sort out He makes molehills out of mountains.

    I am all for the power of a little.

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