24 June 2010

weeding out your life

In my volunteering stint with the Norfolk Botanical Garden, all I've been doing lately is weeding.  It's just that time, I guess.  I'm in the Butterfly Garden, which comes into its own on July 3 when we get all the butterflies into the house.  But outside the house in the garden grounds, many plant species are planted to attract butterflies and support their life cycle, and this needs continual weeding throughout the summer.

During my three-hour gardening assignment this morning, among the 90 degree heat and equivalent humidity, I started thinking about how weeding is a good metaphor for how we move on and overcome the bad forces in our lives.  As time goes on, certain habits, people, and even possessions crop up and start choking us.  They hold us back, sucking our energy and resources and  preventing us to truly thrive and flourish and enjoy the full life intended for us.  And come to think of it, most weeds are just plain ugly and don't mesh with the surrounding plant.

Now one thing is interesting though - our gardener sometimes tells us to leave certain weeds in the ground.  There is one in particular called milkweed, that does indeed flower, and its leaves are food for Monarch caterpillars.  We generally leave these in the beds.  It's a very interesting one because of the sap that pours out--true to its name, it really does look like milk.  I started comparing this surprisingly good weed to those things that come up suddenly in our life that we don't immediately recognize are good for us.  For some people, being laid off can feel binding at first, but then can give them the inspiration to do great things that may not have happened if they were still punching the clock.  For some stories about a few of those people whose names you'll probably recognize, check out this mental_floss article.

But for the most part, weeds are unhealthy.  They obstruct beauty and they burden support systems.  Both in nature and in life, weeds are best caught early on when they are less noticeable, their roots are shallow, and they are easy to uproot.  When I pull weeds, I generally shake off the soil at the root to return it to the garden.  That being said, we do learn from every experience, and we take those lessons and mix them with our fertile soil that lets us grow and perhaps even abound.

What weeds do you need to pull from your life right now?

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