The 998 Good Bricks

Here I am, lying on the bed of my room, starring at my broken leg in Yamoransa, Ghana. As I stare at my broken leg, I have been wondering how much more challenging it has been to carry out my goals here in Ghana. The doctor told me to put no weight on my leg for a minimum of two months. This has made teaching in the classroom and in the garden more difficult, transportation to farmers and stakeholders is quite a process and walking up the hilly town of Yamoransa on my crutches is absolutely exhausting. Just because I have a broken leg, should I quit? Should I go home to the United States and forget the reason I am in Ghana in the first place? Absolutely not.

From day one, AgriCorps told us we would face many challenges. AgriCorps emphasized that challenges are opportunities to grow and the minute we decide that a challenge may be too difficult for us, we lose an opportunity to develop ourselves. Yes, laying here on the bed, waiting for the pain to go away in my leg isn’t the most encouraging thing in the world, but I know my mission here isn’t done. I have a little under two months before I head back to the United States.

The worst possible thing I could do right now is feel sorry for myself. I have an incredible new family with AgriCorps that has been helping me through every step of the way, I have incredibly loving friends and family back home, my overall health is awesome (besides my leg lol) and I have the incredible opportunity to be a Fellow with AgriCorps in Ghana. Even though I had an unfortunate event happen to my leg, I need to count my many blessings in life.

One of my favorite stories is of a monk who wanted to build a monastery. This monk was very poor and could barely afford the materials needed to build this monastery. Because of the limited funds, the monk had to build the monastery himself. The monk went ahead and started building a brick wall. Being a monk, he had much patience and took all the time needed to make sure this brick wall was perfect. Once finished, he stood back to admire his wall. Everything was perfect except for two bricks that were inclined at an angle. To him, those bricks looked horrible and ruined the whole brick wall.

The monk wanted to get rid of the wall but the monk’s abbot said no, it had to stay. As visitors came to visit their monastery, the monk would always avoid going near the brick wall so the visitors would avoid seeing the two bad bricks. One day, the monk was walking with a visitor and the visitor noticed the brick wall. He said to the monk that the brick wall was beautiful. The monk, shocked by this, asked the visitor, “Sir, have you left your glasses in your car? Are you visually impaired? Can’t you see those two bad bricks which spoil the whole wall?” The man replied, “Yes. I can see those two bad bricks. But I can see the 998 good bricks as well.”

The monk allowed these two small bricks to ruin his whole outlook on this beautiful brick wall. He was focusing on the two bad bricks instead of the 998 good ones. But once the man pointed out the 998 good bricks, the perspective of the monk completely changed. Just like this monk, humans tend let the two bad bricks in life ruin the 998 good bricks. Instead, we should focus on the 998 good bricks in our lives. This is extremely important to living a healthy, positive life. I need to keep this in mind as breaking my fibula is one of the bad bricks in my life right now. Even though I have this one bad brick, I have another 998 good bricks in my life. If you are having a rough day today, I encourage you to focus on the 998 good bricks in your life. It’s incredible how our perspective of life can change in a second when we take a moment to count our blessings. Never forget your 998 good bricks.

Connor Lilles is an Agribusiness graduate from Fresno State University. Before serving as an AgriCorps Fellow Connor worked on an almond orchard and studied abroad in Italy.