View From The Cheap Seats

April 18-24, 2016

Going big
By William O. "Bill" James

About every quarter or so I get an urge to clean the garage. Patti is usually pretty good about keeping it picked up between the big cleans, so it takes a while for me to get to the point that I would rather clean it than look at it. There is a funny thing about cleaning a garage: There is a point after every thing has been pulled out that you realize, somehow, you have created a bigger mess than you had when you started. It is at that point that I get a glimpse into the abyss and find myself doing some real soul searching.

The irony is, as I sit there and think about running away from home to escape the mess that I have made, all the while wanting to believe if I did chose to run the mess would miraculously straighten itself up, that I know there is no choice and I must finish the job. Sometimes it is easy to forget that once the contents of your garage is all out on the driveway, you know you are going to be better off than when you started. No way the stuff doesn’t go in more organized and neatly than they it was before. If there was even a snowball’s chance that it will be worse than when you started then you are needlessly cleaning the garage.

Sometimes, the best way to get your life moving is kinda like cleaning the garage. You need to make a big move. That way, after the move, things are definitely going to be different than when you started. It is true that every journey starts with a single step, but we have all taken that proverbial first step and immediately returned to where we started. Sometimes, it takes a big move to make sure things are going to be different no matter what happens. There is some value in being forced to make a move rather than hanging onto the status quo. Big moves create the need for action.

A couple of weeks ago, Patti and I made a big move that can only improve things in my back yard. We had about ten trees cut down, leaving our back yard looking like a vacant field next to the foundational remnants of a house burned down many years ago. The grass that exists is cut regularly, which leaves clumps of dirt remaining as the only prominent figures in the non existent landscaping. You get the point.

The clear cutting of the yard leaves me with a canvas where I can do anything I please. The back yard can only get better from here. The weird part is that, even in the sad shape that the yard finds itself, the extra sunlight makes the back yard a much happier place. The neighbors have plenty of trees, which gives me a green belt on all three sides. Improvement already exists.

One thing that can be said about making big moves in life is that they are rarely boring. Those times are full of spice and they are the ones you remember. Face it, the safe times can be comfortable, but the days and months and the years have a way of bleeding over each other, making them indecipherable in our memories because there is nothing to differentiate one minute from the other.

Find an area of your life that needs to be cleaned up. Take a chance and go big. What is the worse that can happen? Life is better with change, at least that is what they say in the CHEAP SEATS!

Bill James is a criminal defense lawyer and co founder of the James Law Firm with offices in Little Rock, Conway, and Fayetteville, Arkansas. His favorite ice cream is peanut butter and chocolate. He may be reached at