Monday, February 27, 2006

All Is Grist For The Mill

Grist is grain related. From corn. I'm not a big fan of grains. Grains are bad for you. However, today I heard that saying "All is grist for the mill." I hadn't heard it in a long time. It's one of those phrases that I've always just let slide. I kinda got the gist of it and stopped thinking about it.

What's "grist," anyway? It's "a quantity of corn to be ground." Doesn't say all that much until you put it in context. "All is grist for the mill" means everything can be made useful. It comes from the guy that owned the local mill to which everyone came to have their corn ground. He knew that all corn was valuable that corn's owner. They needed it ground, and he needed the money that he charged for the grinding. All is grist for the mill.

But, can everything be made useful? To do that, you have to keep looking at it from different angles until you find a way. I encourage you to do that. Keep looking.

Now, I'm not really talking about physical items. What use is a broken glass? It's a stretch to toss it into a recyle bin and say it'll be useful someday. Don't waste precious brainpower on that stuff. It's the mental stuff that's good to "look at." Lessons learned and all that stuff.

The other day, I was working with someone who I don't particularly like. He's asked for my help, so I agreed to meet him. I was able to help him. However, while we were together, he solved a rather annoying little technical problem rather quickly, after I was ready to just let someone else handle it. That sobered me for a moment and then I made a mental note about the fix.

Later, in my car, I thought about writing that fix down. I got out my PDA and made a new entry. Then, I stopped. I already new that fix. Why hadn't I fixed it on my own? Because it was annoying and I was being lazy, that's why. I stopped writing. After all, "don't be lazy" would really be the only thing to write, and I wasn't really sure where to file that in my PDA.

Today, after the whole "grist" thing, I thought about this guy again. Now that I think about it, he's always been the furthest thing from lazy. In fact, he's a go-getter. So, why did he ask me for help that day. Because he needed something, some knowledge, that he didn't have. That's why we ask others for help. They've got something that we don't have. In fact, I'll bet I annoy him, too: He took the initiative and fixed a problem that I was willing to let slide. I'm the grist for his mill.

We can all learn from the miller. We can all learn from each other and our own mistakes and experiences.

There's grist all around is. I guess grains aren't always bad for us.

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