Today I found myself with a clear schedule and a sunny morning stretching out in front of me. I felt compelled to walk up to the local hardware store (staying strong with my commitment to an Amazon-free April!) and purchase some things to spruce up the courtyard in front of my house: a vibrant outdoor rug, hanging plants, citronella candle, etc.
As I lugged my purchases home, I looked around and realized there was some work that needed to be done before I could plop my rug down and feel accomplished. There were weeds on weeds on weeds to be pulled and dead leaves and branches to be swept up to create a clean canvas for my new decorations.
I’m not a huge gardener (is weeding gardening?), but as I started to pull up the errant sprouts that dotted the flower beds in my courtyard, I realized it was somewhat therapeutic. I wasn’t enjoying the act of pulling the weeds, per se, but I was enjoying the finished effect. Hmm, I thought, this feels very symbolic.
And of course, it is.
Just as winter causes plants to die out and leaves to fall and branches to break under heavy snow, the seasons and traumas and experiences and loves and opportunities of our lives force interests, feelings, expectations and connections to die out, or shed or wither. And like weeds that pop up in the newness of the Spring-- multiplying so fast that you feel like you’ll never be able to keep up with them--there are things in our lives we need to remove and prune back. People, places, habits, limiting beliefs, jobs, worries.
As I worked in my yard, I realized that sometimes I wasn’t honestly sure if something was a weed or had been intentionally planted. But I realized that I could decide what I kept and what I pulled, depending on what felt like it belonged. I wasn’t too concerned with what the original gardener had in mind when they sewed their seeds—I was tending to them now and if I liked it, I kept it, if I didn’t, I didn’t. It was that simple—working from a place of knowing and feeling rather than logic or systematic calculations. This too, felt like a symbol for life: we know what we should keep, if we trust ourselves.
After a while, I was tired and my yard waste bin and two bags were full of weed and yard debris. I decided I was finished, for today. I glanced around the yard and felt good. I felt proud. I noticed there were still green sprouts of weeds in places, still dry leaves and sticks to sweep up. But I’d cleared a space for myself to sit and enjoy, and, I reminded myself, there would always be weeds to pull. This, like everything else, is never completely finished. It’s an ongoing cycle.
And that is life.
There will always be weeds to pull. Some we’ll grab by the roots and extract entirely, some will be tougher and will continue to pop up, time after time after time. As in any practice, there is a need to keep going. As the days pass, and seasons change, we’ll have to continue to tend to ourselves, our gardens, our lives. But each time we do, we’ll realize that the things we’ve removed—whatever they are—have made more space for us, in our gardens and our lives.