Stress, Lawns, and Words on Ownership

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I hold in the nerve endings of my skin a long list of things that cause me stress. The baaing of a lamb and ewe trying to find each other. The alarming way things cleaned become dirty. The way our lawns are sometimes mown.

The items on this list can grow and fester, aided by too much caffeine, too many days without a soul nourishing conversation, or not enough silence, not enough solitude. The healing balm to these items of stress is acknowledgement, recognition, some connection somewhere, to something.

This morning brought that connection, when "Ownership" from Notes from Farm and Field came drifting into my inbox. The author, a fellow midwesterner (and tree-climber!), writes about the way she mows the lawn:

When I mow the lawn, there is no order or plan to it, I simply go wherever I feel like going, and eventually, the whole thing gets done. I aim for a large tree in the middle of the yard and mow ever-widening concentric circles around it; I get bored with that and decide to do the edges of the driveway; I meet up with the big oval bit around the fire-pit in the back, I mow for a while in reverse. It amuses me. The end result is a cut lawn, but I do it in a manner that brings me joy.

I'm approaching this lawn mowing situation from the opposite view. I'm not the one on the lawnmower. I'm the one who feels the prickling skin, the tension of something done not the way I would do it. But I'm just as often the one holding the steering wheel, making my own way joyfully, prompting all kinds of raised eyebrows. I'm the one whose fences are not straight; the one who takes forever to get things done. The acknowledgement of the two-sidedness of the same coin brings a kind of peace.

She continues:

No one else is responsible for the way you want things done but *you.* No one is responsible for your happiness but you. Determine what it is you want, and get there in the manner that works for you. Take your own steps, make your own path. Your joy, your work, your life, is no one's responsibility but yours. Own your shit. It's work, it can be damn hard work, but it's worthy, good work.

Aren't these words soul restoring? And don't those swoops and curves and criss-crosses and colors in our lawn hold a kind of beauty?

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