Scrolling through social media, I found a Tweet from Candace Parker:
I want to share a book that I just finished that was impactful. “Chop Wood Carry Water” READ. Then tweet me your thoughts. @JoshuaMedcalf
— Candace Parker (@Candace_Parker) March 31, 2016
Now if Candace Parker is recommending anything, but particularly a book, I’m checking it out. Confession: I have always loved Candace Parker. And if sportswriters tell you the have zero favorite players, they’re lying. They may not have favorite players among those they actively cover, and even in my time regularly covering women’s college basketball I rarely covered Parker and the Lady Vols. But there are players you step back and watch and go “wow.” And Candace Parker will always be a player like that for me. But wait. I completely digress.
I checked out Joshua Medcalf’s Twitter feed and found the link to his iBook “Chop Wood Carry Water.” I was intrigued. I started reading. I could have devoured the book in one sitting if I had a complete sitting. All told it took me two days to finish the book.
It’s a simple read from a literary standpoint. The story is about John who leaves home to go train to be a samurai archer. He goes in thinking he will learn to be great with the bow and arrow. But at first he must, as the title suggests, chop wood and carry water. Through the story of John and his sensei, Medcalf weaves lessons about the process of becoming great. In order to become great, you must learn to love the process. You must do the simple things, the things most people think of as unimportant, with consistency and care and love.
The basic ideas in Medcalf’s work are familiar to me. But they are lessons I need to keep learning in new ways, lessons which often need reinforcement because I will think I have it all figured out and then realize I’m really nowhere at all.