Today I dug a hole.

That’s not a metaphor, I actually dug a hole.  In the ground.  Not being a fast digger, I had plenty of time to think. It was hard work but strangely meditative.

Hole is not a beautiful word (unlike hope, for example, which is one of my favourites) but it is interesting in being a word that describes an absence of something.  And although my hole was far from being metaphorical, digging a hole is in fact a wonderful starting point for all sorts of literary adventures.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve regularly dug a hole for yourself.  You say something stupid and rather than wisely shutting up, or apologising, you just keep talking – digging yourself deeper and deeper into trouble.  So much trouble, that in fact you find that you’ve dug your own grave.  Best to escape quickly, maybe get out and go shopping in order to spend some of that money burning a hole in your pocket.  Doing so might put a hole in your savings though.

Alice disapeared down a rabbit hole.

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.

Most of the action in Watership Down was set in a series of holes.

I’ve watched plenty of movie scenes that involved the digging of holes, usually graves.  From memory the scenes often involved shovels or spades.  But today I learnt the value of crowbars over shovels.  I also learnt a tiny bit about hard physical labour – something most of us office monkeys know little about.  But were I now to write about it, to write about someone digging a hole, I’d hope that my physical experience would enhance my ability to write with accuracy and verve.

Why was a I digging a hole?  As I’ve said, I found it strangely relaxing.  Read what you will into the psychological permutations of digging a hole within days of my mother’s funeral.   I dug one on the day, too.  The family pets are happy and well, thanks very much, so it wasn’t for one of them.  And it was for nothing pragmatic like drainage or fenceposts.  No, I dug my hole in order to plant a tree.

Weirdly, the previous owners of my new home have planted an ornamental weeping blossom tree in the front paddock.  As soon as the first leaves break out, I can’t imagine the horses will treat it kindly (they’ve already been chewing on it in a contemplative way).  So I dug a hole in the garden (well, in the garden-to-be) behind the house.  Through the lawn and down into wet clay.  Lovely Husband helped with hole and the horse-poo compost, then dug out the blossom tree and helped me to transplant it.

And thus my meditative hole is now home to a beautiful little tree, in direct line of sight from my kitchen sink.  From there I can look out at it and think about the strange benefits of holes.