4:00 AM, dogs, rope, and brown spots on the lawn.

Once about every six months or so I wake up at an unGodly hour. Usually somewhere around the 4:00 AM mark. It is a bizarre occurrence. It is also very odd in that I can remember for years to follow exactly what I do on these bizarre early morning rousings. I usually get up and go running, come home and cook breakfast, and watch TV. Today it was an old movie about Pearl Harbor on AMC. Last time it was a documentary about the Queen of England's last state visit (president Bush gaffed and mentioned her last visit in the "1800s" as I recall).

And so my day began a little after 4:00 this morning. I tossed around and tried to go back to sleep without luck. So I got up and tried to wake my (9) year old up to see if she wanted to go running with me. She was gracious, but basically told me to buzz off. The dog (Simon) was willing, but we couldn't find the leash. So I tied him to a ten foot piece of rope that was in the back of my truck. He ran beside me unrestrained, rope in tow. We were a motley pair.

As I was getting started, I began to wonder why I didn't get up and do this more often. And I started to grumble, thinking to myself that I need to be more disciplined.

Some friends of ours recently had a discussion as to what the greater likelihood was - that the brown spots in their yard would overtake the green grass, or that the green grass, if cultivated, would overtake the brown spots.

I think that sometimes I worry that my defects will assuredly overtake the things that I do right (the few). I have been trying to keep in perspective that cultivating the good is often times more effective than focusing strenuously on shortcomings. It is easy to become obsessed with shortcomings. And this somehow almost seems to make them amplified. Tell me that I am weak for eating ice cream, and all I will want is a double scoop of mint chocolate in a deep fried waffle.

This is not to suggest that introspection is bad or that striving to grow should be avoided. But for me at least - the deep digging and self examination requires efforts to simply cultivate the good that already exists. Otherwise all I see is the brown spots in the lawn. And that just seems to be a waste of the green.

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