FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Busted Lawnmower

by Dave Markwell

Yesterday, I took my lawnmower to a repair guy. Today, I picked it up. My lawn mower has been broken for quite a while. This has been a challenging time for me. While driving the 20 minutes for its retrieval, I was slightly giddy. I love my lawnmower. I love mowing lawns. I love the smell of gasoline and freshly-mowed grass. My brief walks behind my mower always return me to center. I become grounded as my worries fall to the land and are shredded and flung into the catcher bag. It is my meditation in motion.

For these reasons, I just mowed my lawn in the rain. With high expectations, I fired up my newly fixed mower and made a clean and straight first line to use as a reference for subsequent clean and straight lines. The first pass is critical to a decent mow job.

About round three, some barely detectable sputtering started. “NO!!” I not-so-silently screamed (among some other words unfit for print). The maladies had returned. The mower revved and stalled and finally quit. I started it again and it ran, albeit reluctantly, for the rest of my task. I finished, but not with the same flourish I had begun with. I was slightly frustrated, but mostly deflated.

In a post-mortem evaluation of my response to my mower’s dying breaths, I found no satisfying answers. Disappointment happens. Let downs happen. Frustration and struggle happens. These things are life. Understanding that my reaction to lawnmower issues is uniquely weird and uniquely mine and are likely a thin comparison for “real” problems, I still believe that parallels can be drawn between a sputtering lawnmower and a sputtering life.

For example, both sap our energy and enthusiasm. They strip us of our faith and our confidence. And both leave us weary and worn and wondering what to do next. One redeeming element of tough circumstances is that they force us to ask the hard questions. Under the spotlight of a challenge we must decide a path or choose an action. Usually, these actions change us. And usually for the better.

So, acknowledging that my set-back with my damn lawnmower is more emotional that physical, I will move forward. Maybe try to get it fixed “for real”. Maybe buy a new one. Either way, a faulty mower is an easy problem to remedy. As for my life, the same principles apply: Fix what’s broken. Or create a new one. Either way, living with what is not working doesn’t work and is not an option.

With this in mind, I look very forward to the warm, summer sun shining on my bare shoulders as I mow my lawn. I will walk slow and straight and not deviate from my course. I will let the mower erase my fear and doubt and I will be happy. And being happy is about the best reason to do anything.

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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