Need Food for Thought? Chew on this!

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

"Chew on This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder", a book of inspirational short stories by Gary Brock and Kelly Tuck, and is available for purchase here!

*Words of wisdom for inspirational thought are at the end of the story!


“Morning, Chris!” I hollered.

“Hey, Jay,” Chris called back with a wave. “Good morning!”

After dropping my keys, wallet, phone, and a dry shirt into the seat of a courtside chair, I headed over to the baseline of Court 1 while Chris walked to the baseline of the court’s other end, racquet in hand and bouncing the yellow tennis ball in sync with each step.

Twice a week, Chris and I met for an early morning tennis match. Not only did we enjoy each other’s company, but we both enjoyed the physical as well as mental workout our matches created. Chris played a lot of competitive tennis through the years and was a stickler for the game, including the court being just right; he always arrived early to sweep the court if needed and even checked the tension of the net. I, on the other hand, just liked to play; as long as I could see the lines and the ball, I was good to go.

As usual, we warmed up our muscles and minds by volleying back and forth, which always included the volleying of light conversation – work, current events, weather, and practically anything within the normal bantering of facts and opinions. We actually had similar world views so our conversations were fairly like-minded and enjoyable.

After about ten minutes or so into our warm up, we were ready to play. It usually took me several games to get into the flow of the set, and Chris, being the superior tennis player, normally took advantage of this fact. He knew it was best to get me early because my better conditioning would wear him down the longer the match went. I always thought it was interesting how we knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and even more interesting how our weekly matches were molded around this knowledge.

As we were changing sides between games after retrieving a couple errant tennis balls,

Chris said, “Now that’s either an exercise in perseverance or an exercise in futility – I can’t decide.”

Not sure if Chris’s comment was directed toward my morning tennis game or something else, I turned to look at him for clarification. “Say, what?”

Chris nodded to the right. “That worm over there.”

Coming closer to where he was standing, I stared into the direction of his nod. Sure enough, there was a worm doing its level best to crawl, slide, and wiggle its way across the


“This morning when I got here to sweep the courts,” Chris began, “he was coming in under the fence from the grass in that far corner. It looks like he’s heading for the grass on the other side of the parking lot, but I don’t think he can make it that far on this cement.”

My lips pursed. I wonder if I should divert the worm, I thought to myself. I hate seeing anything in distress…but nature seems to have a way of taking care of itself. Given his current direction and position, he won’t come close to our court, so we won’t present a threat of a sudden and deadly impact. No one will be playing on the courts for a couple of hours after us anyway, and by that time, the worm will have made it or not – I just don’t want him to get squished by anyone during a game. He’ll be fine. Satisfied with my self rationalization, I left the worm and resumed my stride to the baseline.

After the final game of our match, Chris and I made our way to the sidelines to change into dry shirts and gather our belongings. I glanced out of the corner of my eye to see that the worm was still at it and was making progress, albeit slow. As we walked across the pavement to our vehicles, my thoughts lingered on Mr. Worm. He still had a long way to go.

Shaking hands with Chris, I asked, “Are we good for Friday?”

“Absolutely,” he replied. “I’m looking forward to it.”

“See you then.” I said.

During my drive home, I couldn’t get the worm out of my mind. Chris had said, “Either he was an example of perseverance or futility.” That was interesting because it represented opposite actions. Honestly, which category the worm fell into was dependent. Maybe it depended on the perspective of the observer. Maybe, in this case, it depended on the outcome. If Mr. Worm made it to the grass, his actions were of tremendous perseverance, but if he dried up from the heat of the cement, his actions were of tremendous futility. Or maybe it ended up both if he made it to the grass only to have expended so much energy that he could go no further, thus exhibiting tremendous perseverance in an endeavor that proved futile. There were actually many possible morals to the story of Mr. Worm depending on how it all played out in the end.

How fascinating, I thought. I’ve always loved fables and quotes because there is truly a story in everything…more often than not, more than one as long as you’re open minded enough to see them. As they say, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Well, Mr. Worm taught me early this morning that I need to be open to finding lessons all around me every day because…

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*Chew On This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder is available for purchase here!

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