Globe Syndicate

for release Friday March 12, 2004

Another Way

by Melodie Davis

Digging Deeper
A friend, Linda, remembers going blueberrying when she was growing up near Dogtown, Massachusetts. It was a favorite time in her childhood with her siblings, going out with little cans tied around their necks so their hands would be free to pick, and not spill the cans. They mouths got as blue as their fingers as they sometimes ate more than they put in the can.
Then Linda’s mom would come along behind. Linda exclaimed, “She could always find more berries! We would think we had found them all but then she would go under the leaves and find more. “‘You have to dig deeper,’” she’d say.
Years later Linda had fun going through the same routine with her sons, complete with little cans tied around their necks, mouths getting blue. Only now Linda would come along behind and encourage her sons to look under the leaves, to dig deeper in order to find more berries.
We should all be so wise. How often would it pay to dig just a little deeper, try harder, work a little harder.
A workshop leader was talking about the difficulty of getting articles and photos out of persons who were supposed to be contributing things for a newsletter. “When I talk to people about this difficulty, they say, ‘Well, I e-mailed him (or her). They won’t respond.’”
The workshop presenter said, “So what? Do you have a car? Could you go get the piece you’re waiting on?” (Perhaps not if the person you’re waiting on lives across the state. But if it is just across town, showing up at someone’s desk or door will probably produce what you’ve been waiting for.) Similarly, in a meeting, he doesn’t accept, “I’ll find that information later.” He responds, ‘No, we’ll wait while you go get it.’” He says that it isn’t long before people start showing up for meetings with the needed information in hand, prepared.
He concluded by saying, “If it was easy, anyone could do it. You have to work harder to succeed.”
Are you teaching your children the wisdom of going deeper? My husband remembers when he finally started earning A’s in his English class in high school: when he started going all out on projects, producing more than the bare minimum asked by the teacher.
In studying things like the Holy Scriptures, too, how often do we just skim something quickly to complete an assignment for religious education classes or small group study? What if we read the assignment at least once or twice, then looked up additional material in other texts? Why is it that the teacher of such groups always gets the most out of a session? It is because he or she has spent time studying, digging, preparing (we hope.) But how much richer the whole class would be if all the members had similarly prepared.
I often wish people dug deeper in their conversations. When people have the most conflict or disagreement, it is often because they have not taken the time to dig beneath surface issues and really listen. When politicians go at one another, usually they are repeating the surface charges and barbs that have been dug up by (sometimes) inexperienced staff persons who haven’t finished their homework.
That is the secret of things like successful conflict mediation. The genius of this method of resolving differences and conflict is that it makes a setting for conflicting sides to both air their problems in complete detail, and also listen completely to the other side. Usually when we take the time to truly listen, or even in talking through to find our own deep feelings ourselves, new ideas for how to resolve a conflict or at least compromise and agree to disagree will emerge.
All of this takes time and energy—which always seems in too short of supply. The siren call to give in to sleep, laziness, or the TV usually beckons us. Yet we find the time to do the things we really want to do, the things that are important. Taking the time to dig deeper yields the good stuff.

Did your Mom or Dad teach you to dig deeper? Send your stories for a future column to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail:

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Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.

NOTES TO EDITORS: text =717 words; end material = 105 words

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