I’m not sure what it is about pulling on gardening gloves and getting out in the dirt that invites philosophical introspection for me… but it does. Sometimes, it’s just a great quiet time to not have to think about anything except getting rid of weeds and cut worms. Other times, there is a great metaphor in the work that settles down over my shoulders and wraps me in a gnat infested, dappled-shade-colored hug. Today was one of the latter.
The last few years have been a struggle for me. I may have been depressed, but I never pursued any professional opinion on the matter so I can’t say that’s technically true. I was working, I had a kid that was having difficulty in school, a kid starting college and joining the Army, another kid who was having difficulty accepting adulthood and was still living with us, and a grand-kid who was living with her mom in our house. It was busy… I didn’t have time to be depressed, or even just really sad and frustrated, if that’s all it was.
But this summer started off with me leaving my job, and since that unexpected move, things have changed. We were fortunate enough to have a good financial cushion in the bank, although it was intended for things like a deck and maybe new floors – not food and gasoline. But at least it was there – I didn’t have to go get a job at the local gentlemen’s club. Gentlemen everywhere are relieved. :) I spent the summer hanging out with my son, helping my sister move to Oregon, helping my daughter move into her own place, and cleaning out closets. There are more closets waiting, but the work has begun on getting the weeds out of my life.
Metaphorical weeds are just like regular old weeds. They suck up all the nutrients and sunshine and water, and leave the herbs and flowers we wanted to see struggling to mature. We spend years cultivating an education, make the proper choice in a spouse, provide music lessons for the kids, and have a stack of great cookbooks on the counter. But our “weeds” grow up and choke out the beauty that can grow from the seeds we have planted. When we fill our lives with clutter – physical and psychological – the creative moments, and the moments of sincere enjoyment of the life we are living, are buried. I have begun to pull weeds in my life, and I believe it’s going to help me focus on the things that truly make me happiest; being creative and enjoying my family.
This summer, as I organized closets, and decorated the newly-vacant guest room, and cleaned the guest bathroom, I realized the things that had been cluttering my head and my daily schedule were going away. As those weeds were pulled, the creative part of me began to peek out again. Or, I guess it’s more accurate to say that it began to bloom. It had remained there the whole time – it just wasn’t thriving.
Aside from the psychological weeds, I had also let a lot of physical weeds grow up around me over the last few years. I spent time and money stockpiling materials that I was sure I would use eventually… things that would be great once I had time to come up with an idea. And of course, those ideas would need to be followed by time to actually act on the idea. The end result is that I have a Large Amount of stuff that I am now finally ready to thin. I think I have a handle on the time and inclination I have and can fairly judge what piles to keep, and what I can let go. My husband will be thrilled.
So, today, as I pulled weeds and contemplated the creative projects I had waiting for me in my workspace, I felt good knowing that things were headed in the right direction. Eventually, I’ll stop lying in bed worrying about money. Eventually, my hair will stop thinning from stress (why can’t I lose weight when I’m stressed instead of hair!!??). And eventually, I’ll look back on the last few years and feel confident that they were incubation years; that the things I was learning and the people I was meeting were nurturing me, even as I was unable to act on their help. There will be more weeds, of course, but I’m hoping that they’re only in the garden.