While hanging out at my buddy’s house many years ago, I stumbled into helping his mom with some yard work. I recall trimming back various trees and shrubs, all done very delicately. She was quite specific about NOT cutting too much. Being a bit of a pruning bully, I did my best to accommodate her wishes, but could not help getting a little aggressive with my loppers from time to time. She gently “corrected” me and, as far as frustrating afternoons go, it was kind of pleasant.
One technique in her landscape management repertoire which I could not comprehend, nor endure, was chopping each clipping into a two-inch chunk to be deposited into the yard waste bin. I had no patience for this. It seemed like a tedious waste of valuable time. So, I left her to this chore and went about doing the super-important nothing I had to do. But, this experience stuck with me.
Well, life being life, things have changed. The other night while hacking away at some errant blackberry vines creeping out from laurel hedge, I found myself standing over my yard waste barrel clipping the pointy tendrils into bit-size pieces to maximize spatial economy. During this process, I remembered the day many years ago when I could not tolerate this idea, being is such a big hurry to get nowhere.
Standing in my yard performing the exact same act which so repelled me many years ago, I was reminded of “mom” and I smiled. With my face pointed toward the late summer sun, I enjoyed taking my time nibbling these vines with my shears. It was quite meditative. I was simply happy. And I “got it”.
I have spent much of my life in a hurry. My tires spin fast. However, the problem with spinning tires is traction. I tend to rush from project to project, idea to idea, without allowing them to gain traction. Good, valid and important ideas litter my history and lie in the mud, wasted by my haste.
Trimming my blackberries, slowly and deliberately…and enjoying it…I hope represents a shift; a slow-down. Life is busy with infinite possibilities distracting our attention. Each possibility excites us and pulls us towards it. The problem here is that we can become so busy hopscotching through ideas that we never allow any to fully develop. We move and build and think, but don’t create anything except for rough drafts and incomplete structures. This is a sad fact.
Gratefully, time is sometimes kind. The unfortunate time it takes to recognize this necessary fact is followed by a time to remedy it: A time to do something different. This is a new possibility, one full of hope and the lost optimism of youth. We still have time. Today, we have time to change what we see needs change. By taking our foot off the gas, we can gain some traction and clarity about what matters to us and move our lives in the direction we were born to travel, which, I believe, is what we are here to do…
[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also 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!]