When the Problem Isn’t Outside…It’s Inside

Dear Reader:

The idea for the blog today started with an innocent enough question from Rutledge when he came over last Wednesday. I put him on a scavenger hunt to find the “secret” key hanging in front of the potting shed to give him something to do while we finished preparations for the Pre-Thanksgiving dinner.

I gave him a couple of clues including one that said “Look far back in the garden near the garage Rutledge.” 

What garden Boo Boo?” asked Rutledge in a puzzled voice.

I must have given him a strange look and I pointed to the whole back yard….”That garden!”

He paused, shook his head, and said, “I don’t see any carrots or lettuce Boo Boo?” 

It finally hit me where the problem lay.

“Rutledge, there are different kinds of gardens…Boo Boo has a flower garden. Other people might have a vegetable garden but they are still all called gardens.

I then asked him if he thought a garden looked like Mr. McGregor’s garden in Peter Rabbit and he nodded. Mystery solved.

Don’t we wish all our communication problems were that simple?

It did get me thinking along a different line of communication, however, once “Peter Rabbit” entered the discussion.

One of my favorite John Travolta movies is Phenomenon. He plays the part of a friendly, simple mechanic in a small town who experiences a strange light in the sky (following his birthday party in a local bar) that causes him to collapse for a few seconds in the middle of the deserted street.

In the days and weeks that follow, George finds his IQ and consciousness expanding dramatically, and develops telekinetic abilities. Despite his attempts to explain what has happened to him, with just a very few exceptions, most of the local townspeople begin to treat the “new” George as a freak.

In a beautiful metaphor for what is happening to George the movie shows another problem he is trying to solve. He has a garden raising lettuce and carrots but a rabbit keeps getting into the garden somehow, someway (even after driving three foot stakes deep down in the ground.)

One night he stays up to watch for the culprit and even opens the gate to lure it in….but to his surprise the rabbit doesn’t run in…it runs out. He had unknowingly “penned” the rabbit inside the garden while building the additional stakes.

Mark Nepo picked up on this metaphor of life too and in his own wisdom shared his perception of this “phenomenon.”

The Rabbit And The Garden

–by Mark Nepo


In the movie Phenomenon, John Travolta’s character has done everything he can think of to keep this pesky rabbit out of his garden. He’s even put in fencing that goes three feet underground, and still everything he plants is nibbled through.

 Suddenly, one night he wakes and realizes he’s been going about this all wrong. In the moonlight, he quietly goes to his garden and opens the gate, then sits on his porch and waits. To his surprise, as he begins to fall asleep, the rabbit scurries out the gate.

While he’d been trying to keep it out, the rabbit was trapped in his garden, and he was inadvertently keeping it in. 
How often do we barricade and fence up our lives against hurt and loss, thinking we’re keeping the painful things out, when they’re already trapped inside eating at our roots, and what we really need to do is open the gate and let them out?

— Mark Nepo


So until tomorrow…Help us Father turn inward to recognize where the root of our problems lay and then open the gate turning them over to You…finally freed from the prison of problems we built around ourselves.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

The nice thing about my daily walks with Vickie and Maggie is that there are no problems outside while strolling…just new discoveries of nature at its best. The combination of the huge magnolia tree and the red Japanese Maple tree blooming beneath it…looked like a Christmas card…just needed a red bow wrapped around it.

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to When the Problem Isn’t Outside…It’s Inside

  1. bcparkison says:

    This is a good one Becky. So, so true! ps. I love Peter Rabbit.


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