I’m fortunate to live in landscaped grounds, and that the front and back of my house is all glass, so I can feel that I’m surrounded by nature even when I’m indoors. The view from the front is beautiful – lawn, trees and shrubs, lovingly maintained by gardeners. The back garden, however, is another story.
We have to look after our own back gardens. Normally my trained eyes aim high towards the woods behind my garden, settle on trees and sky, follow birds and squirrels diving in and out of the branches, and I admire the vast beauty that nature provides for me. Occasionally, though, I make the mistake of staring out into my garden and my gaze rests on the weeds and the brambles.
I do actually enjoy gardening but lately I’ve just decided it’s not a priority. So the garden has taken its life into its own hands and has thrived according to the laws of nature: my brambles are definitely amongst the fittest to be found anywhere. My neighbours kindly referred to it as a wild garden, good for the birds and butterflies, and my conscience took refuge in that fact. But the reality is that it’s too wild and overgrown to enjoy sitting in. The interesting thing is that I can usually look at my garden without actually seeing it. It’s a great skill and protects me from feeling inadequate, lazy, and all the other negative labels I imagine visitors to my home silently pinning on me.
Every now and then I lose patience with my garden – or with myself, if I’m honest. Usually it starts when I’m taking out the rubbish and have to force my way to the back gate through the jungle. Before I know it, I’ve grabbed the gloves, secateurs and a fork and have started to cut and pull until I’m in a full-blooded, frenzied blitz on the brambles. I pour out all my energy until I’m exhausted and need to get back to my work. I can feel a rush of satisfaction – I’ve enjoyed the connection with nature, and the garden looks a bit better. But only compared to its previous state: in reality, it’s still a mess and I know it. Worse still, I know it’s just a question of time before the weeds are back again, reaching for the sky, and my efforts will have been wasted. As long as I don’t do the work of digging deep into the soil and pulling up all the roots, they will always grow back. I’m just fooling myself.
Our lives are no different. We do a pretty good job of ignoring problem areas until they overwhelm us.
So, what are the brambles and weeds of your life? And what are you going to do about them?