We had an odd winter here in Virginia’s quiet Shenandoah Valley. We were still shoveling snow in late March, and in a single week, we missed three school days for different reasons. One day was the victim of snow, one for freezing rain and the third was cancelled for severe flooding of the Shenandoah River. In between the snow and ice, we had paradisiacal days in the 60s that could have been ripped from a glossy travel magazine.
No one has been more confused by spring’s awkward shuffle than Mr. Grumpy Grass in my front yard. One freezing morning I heard him shout, “Wake me when you’re serious,” and then drift back to sleep.
Thankfully, three weeks ago, spring finally announced she was ready to stay and the yard awoke in a hurry. I pulled out my mower and after a tune-up by a friend who could fix a Carnival cruise ship engine with his eyes closed, I began tackling the grass in my front and side yards.
I made one pass after another, firing off menacing looks at the clusters of weeds as I mowed them down and blended them into the surrounding healthy green blades. I was slicing and dicing dandelions and crab grass with as much energy and excitement as Vince from the Slap Chop commercials.
When I was done, I admired my work and noticed that one particular section in the backyard looked so good, it could have gone to prom with the first fairway at Augusta National.
Just a few days later, the love was gone. Weeds as high as six inches were already poisoning the lawn again. And this time I noticed even thicker, more toxic varieties popping up and taking advantage of the recent rain.
Sure, I could have invested the time to do the hard work of removing the weeds. I could have carefully spread weed killer and gotten on my knees to pull the more stubborn weeds at their root. But why? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Instead, I fired up the mower and for a second time, cut down the weeds until they were barely distinguishable from the lush green grass around them. It felt good to have temporarily solved the problem, even though I knew it was a quick fix. For a day or two, the lawn looked just fine.
Then, before I knew it, I was standing on my porch looking at all the same weeds back in all the same spots. Some had returned thicker, others looked to have brought along a few squatter friends.
I stood for some time surveying the lawn, section by section. But the longer I looked, the more I didn’t see grass at all — I saw my life.
How often have I chopped away the weeds of my life — bad habits — only to see them reappear again? I certainly recognize the things in my life that occasionally need improvement. But do I really make time to remove the weeds that stifle the rest of my personal growth? Or do I take a quick pass at the surface, trim away what’s visible to the world and pretend the same weeds won’t soon return?
How much easier would life be if we identified the weeds and made time to attack them at the root? What if we asked experts that are trained to know the best methods for success? What if we spent time on our knees doing the hard work to remove the toxic weeds that, if left untreated, can eventually overtake and smother a healthy yard?
I suspect a completely weed-free yard is something I’ll never experience in this life. But maybe with a fresh perspective, I might be willing to try a little bit harder.
How about you?
Jason F. Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars," "The Wednesday Letters," and "The 96th Annual Apple Valley Barn Dance." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or jasonfwright.com.