One Spoonful at a Time – guest post by Shawn Smucker

It’s a year of firsts for me … today I have my first guest poster!

Shawn Smucker is a writer who has been involved with some cool writing projects that have included soft pretzels, Amish, big feet and “blessing’s, stupid“. Shawn blogs at Shawn Smucker … where he loves to explore the meaning of serious things like purpose and identity and some not so serious things about living in Paradise. (yes, he seriously lives in Paradise)

Here’s a great piece by him about making time to do things you are passionate about.


A lot of people walk around these days like they’re in prison. I know, I know, they are free to come and go as they please. They aren’t serving a sentence behind bars…but you wouldn’t necessarily know it if you spoke with them. Or watched how they live their lives.

“Back to the old grind,” they say on Mondays, or after holidays.

“I hate my job. I wish I could do what I want to do,” they say.

“Thank goodness it’s Friday.”

Any of these sentiments sound familiar? Most people don’t even know they’re trapped inside a prison. Most people don’t realize there is an entire world of purpose and vision and excitement waiting for them. As Henry David Thoreau said,

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

* * * * *

Ever seen the movie Shawshank Redemption? It’s basically the story of a man in prison. All appearances would suggest that this man, Andy Dufresne, is going about his daily routine as someone who has given in to serving out his life sentence. He helps in the library. He takes care of the warden’s bookkeeping, he wanders aimlessly around the prison yard.

But appearances can be deceiving.

* * * * *

Do you ever feel like you are living in a prison? Do you ever feel trapped by your life? There’s something you can do: each and every day spend a little time doing something you are passionate about.

At first it seems like a small thing, really…writing for thirty minutes, or running a mile, or working in your garden. But there is something waiting for anyone who commits even a small amount of time to doing something they love.


* * * * *

Years after Andy is incarcerated, he escapes. Turns out that every night he was using a tiny rock hammer, usually used to make small stone sculptures, to chip through the prison wall in his cell. He covered the hole every day with a poster. And each day, when he appeared to be wandering aimlessly through the prison yard? Andy was actually emptying out spoonfuls of dirt from inside the rolls of his jeans.

It took him years and years to dig that hole, one spoonful at a time.

The final scene of the movie shows Andy walking slowly down a crystal white beach in Mexico. It’s a striking contrast from the gray drabness of the prison.

Freedom is always a striking contrast from an imprisoned life.

* * * * *

I ask again: do you feel trapped by your life?

Do just one thing you are passionate about. One spoonful at a time. And one day you’ll realize.

You’re free.


  1. Sandy
    January 19, 2011 | 10:44 AM| Reply

    I so get this! Unfortunately for me I didn’t get it until my husband was diagnosed as terminal. It was at that time that he got this too. For him it was too late, but for me it was an opportunity to begin to live.

    • Janet Oberholtzer
      January 19, 2011 | 09:43 PM| Reply

      Hi Sandy,
      Thanks for visiting!
      Love this line of yours … “an opportunity to begin to live”
      That’s something we all need to think about.
      Live well!

  2. Alise
    January 19, 2011 | 04:13 PM| Reply

    What a beautiful post. Those early spoonfuls feel like so little and it can be tremendously easy to give up because you’re not making any discernible progress. I’m thankful for people in my life who maybe gather up some of those spoonfuls and show me how far I’ve come. It’s a pretty massive blessing.

    • Janet Oberholtzer
      January 19, 2011 | 09:44 PM| Reply

      Love the reminder that sometimes we need to remind each other how far they’ve come … thanks for sharing that.

  3. Trackback: Thankful Thursday – Post 10 | Janet Oberholtzer

  4. jen
    January 30, 2011 | 04:21 PM| Reply

    Shawshank is one of the BEST movies!
    Shawn and Janet, y’all need to sit down with my husband and share this stuff about dreams and writing! (We do live in the same county.) I try to encourage him to do the spoonfuls but I think he has adult ADHD, lol!!
    I found you Janet on EE’s blog and Shawn thru Rachel Evan’s blog.
    Thank you for such encouraging words!

    • Janet Ober
      January 30, 2011 | 05:43 PM| Reply

      Hi Jen … thanks for visiting my site. Yes, this piece from Shawn is good … a good reminder that one spoonful at a time is how we get things done!
      So you live in Lancaster Co, PA … do you have a blog or are you on FB?

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