Contemplation on weeding 2

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops but the cultivation and perfection of the human being”

~Masanabu Fukuoka

Two years ago I wrote a newsletter about weeding as a meaningful activity that promotes connectedness to the soil, plants, and the other living beings in the soil.( It is the beginning of the season again, and we find ourselves back in “weeding routine”.

This season begins in rain and wetness. It rains almost every day; the garden is muddy and the weeds are growing fast. Weeding is sorting out what we welcome into the garden from what we do not want. Weeding gives space, air, light, and nourishment to the plants that we invite into our garden without the need to compete with unwelcome guests that just show up to the party without an invitation.

“Do not spread compost on the weeds”

~William Shakspeare

Like in the garden, our everyday life is filled with weeds. How many of us stop to contemplate our inner garden? When we are in our twenties, we hold many ideals dearly. We want to change the world and make it a better place. We have dreams for ourselves and who we would like to become. Then, life happens: we buy a home and a car, we marry, and start a family. Before we know it, our life is filled with obligations. How many of these obligations are flowers that beautify our garden? How many are weeds that suffocate our inner garden and fill us with stress and anxiety?

We became collectors. Our houses are filled with stuff: kitchen gadgets, needless clothing, and knick-knacks. We have so much stuff that our homes cannot accommodate all of it, and some of us need to rent a storage place. Most of that stuff lies somewhere, accumulating dust and not being used. To fund all this shopping, we need to work long hours every day, not always in the profession of our dreams. Tired and frustrated of feeling like we lost control over our life, we feel entitled to compensate ourselves and so we go out shopping. Can we find a way to weed our wants and fulfill our needs?

We accumulate not only stuff but activities too. What starts as a busy life for adults slowly slips into our children’s life. After seven hours of school (that one might consider a full-time job), they are chauffeured from one after school activity to another: sports, music, private lessons, and more. Both the parent who is driving and the child are kept busy all afternoon, and sometimes during the weekend. Can we find a way to simplify our life? Can we make space to just be?

“Plant your own garden

and decorate your own soul

instead of waiting for someone

to bring you flowers.

~Veronica A. Shofstall

President Trump decided to withdraw from the “Paris Climate Accord”. As much as I feel saddened by his decision, I also hope that it serves as a wake-up call to us. Fixing global warming is not just in the hand of our leaders, it is in our hands too. When we shop, especially if we buy a lot of plastic gadgets that are made of petroleum, we feed the oil industry. When our clothing is a fashion statement that needs to be transported from China new every season, then we support the oil industry. If we, in New England, buy food that is transported from California or South America, then we support the oil industry.

We would hope that with the washer, dryer, and other home appliances, with tractors and cars etc., we would have more time to engage with our families and friends. But it seems that although we live a life that is way more convenient than the life our grandparents lived, we have less time to enjoy the people we love than they did.

Weeding our life means that we learn to identify the difference between your wants and needs. Weeding our life means that we learn to prioritize. We must figure out what is really important to us, and what we want to do not because our friends or our neighbors are doing it because it is important to us. We must break down the concepts and conditioning that we grew up with. There is a real freedom that accompanies this process.

After weeding the garden, I observe how the vegetables and herbs that grow in it recuperate. They stretch and grow to the side and up toward the sun. They look vibrant and happy. They do not need to survive anymore - they can just be.