Defiance and the Red Bucket

On hot mornings, I fill up a red bucket with water.

I carry it down three flights of stairs and out to the four-by-eight square of soil in front of my apartment building. There are a few – maybe 10 – little green plants trying very hard to grow there.

But lately, the heat has been harsh and unrelenting. Sometimes, when I’m walking down the stairs, lugging the red bucket full of water, I think what I’m doing is ridiculous. It’s been a million degrees out there for days and will be for days more. This stupid, stupid bucket of not-enough water isn’t going to do anything.

Which is probably true. But we don’t have a spigot on our building. And I can’t start the rain. So, the bucket is what I’ve got.

On the hottest mornings, when my resistance is highest, when I am 100% sure that the red bucket and I are puny, pathetic attempts to defy the huge heat that spreads itself thickly over the city, I’ve started reciting a few lines from historian Edward Everett Hale as I walk down the stairs.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

So, the red bucket and I, we do what we can. And somehow, someway, those 10 or so little green plants are still holding on.

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