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Doing It The Hard Way. . .Sometimes On Purpose

July 10, 2014

I have the pleasure to write for our local Pleasant Grove, UT paper. Below is a column that appeared recently, with added pictures.

The following is reprinted from “The Timpanogos Times” Saturday June 21, 2014. Pictures not part of original story.


Bliss Bits
By Rodney Bliss

Pleasant Grove’s signature downtown park became a little more pleasant last month. On a Saturday in May a local church group gathered to clean, paint, and improve the look of the park.

Much of the work may not be obvious. They spent hours scraping old paint off the bathrooms and pavilions.




New paint replaced the chipped, peeling and faded covering. They descended with an army of rakes to level the wood chips in the playground area.


The final task before the adults and dozens of youth could enjoy what was truly heavenly BBQ brisket, was to get a truck load of rocks unloaded into a new pet area outside the bathrooms.

I estimated the truck held about two and a half cubic yards of river rock. River rock weighs two tons per cubic yard: 5,000 lbs of rocks. The only method for getting the rock from the truck to the pet area was back breaking manual labor.

The kids swarmed the truck. Soon rocks were flying mostly in the direction of the pet area, and dangerously close to some of the youth. Someone produced several five gallon buckets and the task became one of sitting on the pile of rocks and picking them up one by one and putting them into a bucket that was then handed off to a young man waiting next to the truck who would dump it into the pet are and return it to let the cycle repeat.

It was slow work. Shovels weren’t much use for much of the time. Throughout the 45 minutes it took to empty the truck Brian Cryer of Pleasant Grove was cheering on the kids.

Come on, you guys are making great progress! Look at how much you’ve done already! You’re doing awesome. Not much left.


Afterward, I talked to Brian.

It’s too bad the truck didn’t have a lift.

Oh, it did.

What do you mean?

It’s a dump truck. The bed tips up.

But it’s broken?

Not as far as I know.

Ah. . .

Look, we could have finished this in about ten minutes. What lesson would that teach the kids? This way every one of those kids is going to feel like they contributed to making this park a nice place for people and their pets.

He did it the hard way on purpose. Brian understood that if you have to work for something, you appreciate it more. And he never mentioned a word of his real purpose to any of the kids.

What’s too easily obtained is too lightly esteemed.

I attended the graduation ceremony for Summit High School last month. You are probably not familiar with Summit. The class of 2014 totaled 43 graduates.


Summit is what’s known as an alternative high school. All of the attendees are in state custody, mostly in foster care. Some are there through their own choices, some through the choices of others beyond their control.

The Summit graduates reminded me of those kids emptying that dump truck. For many at risk kids, Summit high school is a school for second chances. And many of these kids took full advantage of that second chance. The class boasted an impressive number of recipients of the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence, which requires a 3.5 GPA, and even more impressive recipients of the Presidential Award For Outstanding Academic Excellence, which requires a 3.8 GPA and 90% attendance.

Unlike the kids unloading rocks, the Summit kids weren’t doing it the hard way on purpose. But what the two groups shared was the accomplishment of doing something hard, something they didn’t necessarily have to do.

The kids from the church group will remember their time moving rocks. Some might even remember it as being hard, but worth it. The Summit kids will remember that no matter what happened in the past or will happen in the future, they accomplished something hard. They accomplished something that many didn’t think they’d be able to do.

They did the hard thing.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.

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