I don’t want to overstate it but this is the key to life


I have a garden space at our church’s community garden that I share with another guy.  He’s a lot better gardener than I am even though I grew up on a farm.  He knows this because I ask him questions all the time.  The garden’s organizer knows this because I tried to use Roundup in our all-natural garden a couple of years back.  That’s how we do it on the farm.

I also have a job at a desk in the insurance industry.  To be completely forthcoming it’s in Livestock Insurance and really we’re a bunch of agriculture guys trying to fake it as insurance guys but we still manage to get the job done.  We don’t always use the equivalent of Roundup, sometimes, but not always.  Like I said, we mostly fake it.

Sometimes, on days like today, the garden and the insurance job intermingle.  It’s not often that one is a benefit to the other.  Some might say it’s nothing more than self-deception but I’d say it might be the key to life.  The “it” is therapeutic weeding.  Allow me to explain.

Some days, insurance is a drag.  I know, huge newsflash.  I don’t know anyone in or out of the insurance field who always wanted to be in the insurance field.  I’m sure they’re out there, I just haven’t met them yet.  Part of the reason these people are so rare, at least for me, is insurance can be a dry, unlively and tedious business.  It’s necessary to be sure.  It’s just not all that exciting.  On certain days, for those of us in it, it can be frustrating, even maddening.  On those days we all need something to drain the insurance from our psyches.  That’s not to say gardening can’t be tough too.

If you’re a person like me who isn’t a great planner your garden can make you its bitch.  Sorry to be profane but between the watering and bugs and disease and the weeds your small plot of land and whatever you’re trying to grow can absolutely own you.  Believe me, I’ve been there.  My last foray into gardening saw me harvest more from the plants that came up as volunteers than what I tried to grow.  Beetles absolutely sucked the life out of my viny plants.  Grasshoppers gnawed down my lettuce to a nub and the weeds were nothing short of epic.  This year was shaping up as more of the same despite the good advice I got from my friend.  Weeds had overtaken our onions and were rapidly encroaching on our tomatoes.  That is, until insurance inserted itself into the mix.  Enter therapeutic weeding.

Today was one of those tough days at work.  Overwhelmed and under-matched as a livestock guy trying to figure out what an insurance guy was supposed to be doing I was looking for some way to adjust my attitude.  At the same time I knew I had maybe a week before the entire garden would be over-run with weeds and any hope of harvesting produce would be lost.  I’d tried to do some weeding a while back and it was drudgery my back wouldn’t tolerate, but today I had another gear to go into.  Today I was going to pit one thing against the other.  I headed to the garden still wearing my work clothes.

Never mind I would have been more comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt.  Never mind I knew my work was cut out for me against those weeds.  I was on a mission and that mission was to absolutely trash those work clothes, get soaking wet with sweat and show the garden who was boss after all.  And you know what?  It worked.

I left there having weeded the majority of the garden (before my back said “stop”) and a sweaty mess.  I’d successfully left all the stress from my desk job in heaps of foxtail, red root and lambs quarters.  All the frustration of a day was now laying on its side, roots exposed, destined for weed heaven.  As for those work clothes?  They were trashed.  Filthy dirty, sopping wet and even nicked up a bit from the tomato cages.  All in all it was a perfect therapy session.  It didn’t cost me $228 an hour, I didn’t have to talk about my feelings and in doing it I discovered a simple truth.  Our duties are best viewed as a means to add variety and perhaps a foil to each other.

Weeding is only as therapeutic as you allow it to be.  It’s all a state of mind really.  See it as another part of life you dread, something you have to do, and it will be the equivalent of your desk job.  See it as another battle you seem never to be able to win and you may feel in over your head like you feel in your nine to five.  However, see it as a diversion, a way to do something completely different from what you spend the majority of your time doing and it becomes a respite from the things that make you grind your teeth and need a stiff drink at the end of the day.  It goes the other way too.  See your desk job as a way to do something in the comfort of a climate controlled office with a cup of coffee using the muscles between your ears and not between your shoulders and waist and it becomes worthy of your efforts.  Now imagine all the other possibilities in your life.

Cleaning becomes a way to show pride in where you live and make your house, your world at home, an orderly and calm place, a place you control.  Getting your car serviced becomes a source of comfort that you won’t find yourself stranded on the side of the road, you’ll save money because your car will run more efficiently and you won’t have to worry about bigger bills down the road.  Even grocery shopping can be enjoyable if you view its larger purpose to make meals for your family or significant other they’ll enjoy while you spend all-important time around your table building bonds that can last forever.  It’s all in how you look at it.

So whether it’s therapeutic weeding, diversionary fund raising at your job or any of the other things we all find ourselves tasked with every day just remember; your viewpoint determines your satisfaction, your joy.  So, make it so.

I don’t think I’m alone when I’m feeling like everything just grinds my gears.  However, I hope I’m also not alone that occasionally I can use one task as a diversion from the other.  I hope you got something out of this and maybe you’ll live a little happier because of it.

About once a week I post to my blog about life.  Somethings have a bit of whimsy like this and some are more serious.  If you want to read more, click here to go to my blog’s home page.  If you like what you read I hope you’ll subscribe.  Subscribing is free and means you’ll get an email weekly with links to my posts.  Nothing more or less.  You can subscribe here by clicking this or at the blog.

Thanks for reading!