I wrote a post about weeding last August. Since then, my front lawn has gone to pot. Most of the grass died somewhere along the way –my failure to water it, perhaps?– and now there are weeds everywhere. If you think I’m exaggerating, keep in mind that Connecticut boasts 102 varieties of weeds and I’m pretty sure my front lawn contains at least half of them. I often joke to people that I have the worst lawn in my neighborhood (except that it’s not a joke). And yes, I’ve even lost sleep over it, wondering if my neighbors think less of me because my lawn is so sad. It’s only when my apartment dweller friends come over and either pretend not to notice –or sincerely don’t notice?– what a disaster it is that I realize stressing over my lawn is pointless.
And yet after spending a weekend at my brother’s house (and seeing a lawn so perfect it could have been fake), my competitive streak kicked in. I returned home, got out my tools, and started digging. Up until that point, I had just mowed over my weeds. After all…from a distance, green is green, right? But what I contemplated last night was that I was content to let things appear not as they actually were. And as much as I had pretended, the weeds were not real grass. So as I dug them up from the roots and revealed a vast open space of barren dirt and worms, I felt a strange sense of pride at revealing the ugliness of my lawn. Why? As strange as it sounds, I felt a sense of calm come over me knowing that I was finally revealing its truth. And I wasn’t ashamed of it anymore.
The accidental education that my lawn gave me yesterday allowed me to contemplate how we do this in our relationships. We let things appear not as they actually are but how we want them to be. Our inauthentic “weeds” are watered and trimmed back. We spend a lot of time exerting energy to maintain a false appearance because we think that’s what someone else wants and desires. (Green is green, remember?) And we often neglect to acknowledge that these falsities take over for as long as we choose not to see them…not necessarily transforming us into a completely different person, but compromising our authentic selves just enough so that we’re not really sure how to get back to the person we once were. This way of living inauthentically not only threatens us but also jeopardizes the relationships we’re in.
If you’re nodding your head, you’re not alone. It’s time to explore what’s underneath…no matter how ugly it may be. As my neighbor told me yesterday (after I complimented his lawn and naturally made a self-deprecating comment about mine), “It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time.”
P.S. A good friend of mine very intuitively sent me this poem by Hafiz today.
We Should Talk about This Problem
There is a Beautiful Creature
Living in a hole you have dug.
So at night
I set fruit and grains
And little pots of wine and milk
Besides your soft earthen mounds,
And I often sing.
But still, my dear,
You do not come out.
I have fallen in love with Someone
Who hides inside you.
We should talk about this problem–
I will never leave you alone.