Every spring I’m faced with a daunting task: I must pull enormous amounts of weeds that grow on my large rural property. I live in the Santa Cruz Mountains on about four acres of land. Not all of that land has been cleared or is usable. However, the area around the house has, of course, been cleared and there is a path that leads to an area where a house was once supposed to be built that has also been cleared. This area, which runs all the way to the edge of our property, contains a small orchard and a fenced garden, as well as a small “cottage.” All the land between and around our house and the edge of our property becomes totally overgrown with a variety of weeds and wild grasses every year. This includes my fenced garden. Last year we managed to put mulch the pathway, and that did stay somewhat weed free, but this year it has once again turned into a path of weeds as the rains have stopped and the sun and warm weather have heralded in spring.
And so begins my spring work: pulling weeds. Huge heaps of weeds. I pull weeds each weekend until my hands and arms are so sore that it becomes difficult on Monday to hold a pen or to type on my keyboard. I pull so many weeds that The piles are knee high until I haul them off, wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow to the mulch pile. I dump them over the edge of a hill. It used to be along way down to the bottom of the mulch pile, but after three years of dumping on this “pile,” the pile has made it’s way all the way to the top of the hill. I’ve actually extended our property by about a yard of decomposing weeds.
This year I began early, and the weeds are still short by comparison to most years. They don’t yet even come up to my knees. Other years, I’ve waited until June and they have been shoulder high. The first year I weeded the fenced garden, my husband couldn’t see me among the weeds.
As I spent the third day pulling weeds, I began to think about how many weeds I pull — and even if I pull them before they go to seed — some still seem to reseed and come back the next year. It struck me that some issues in my life take the same course. I work on them and think I’ve got them fixed (pulled), but they sprout up again at some time in the future. And then I have to work on them once again. If we push the issues down and ignore them or try to cover them up, they always rear there heads as well. (Two years ago we put down a fabric weed guard, but this year the weeds had either come up around the edges or simpled begun growing in the mulch on top of it.)
Of course, I could use some weed killer, which would poison the plant all the way to the roots. I don’t have this choice with my personal issues. I can’t treat it with an issue killer. I can’t pull or dig it out. I have to actually find a way to resolve it or come to terms with it in some way that ensures it won’t “grow” back.
My question as I pulled weed after week was simple: Is there a way to ensure that our issues don’t come back once we think we’ve resolved them? Or do we have to resign ourselves to dealing with them over and over again, year after year, just like the weeds that grow on my property?
I think some issues we resolve well enough that, for the most part, they don’t “grow back.” Maybe we work on them hard enough that we managed to get out ever last bit of root or we pull it out enough times before it goes to seed that no seeds are left to sprout. But other issues simple are harder to eradicate. Just when you think they are gone, you find a little shoot trying to find the sun. You have to take a good look at it again, deal with it in some way, and then hope that this time you really did get rid of it.
Sometimes, the process of trying to get rid of the issue makes things worse temporarily, such as when I have to pull out poison oak. If I’m not careful, the plant touches my skin and for several weeks I’m itchy in those places. My skin is irritated. Problems and issues that arise time and time again can cause the same kind of reaction, seeming bigger than the last time, more aggravating than before, until we learn a better way to resolve it or move through it.
So, I suppose our personal issues and problems are just the weeds of our life, and we must resign ourselves to having to occasionally — or continually — deal with them in one way or another. Over time, the number of weeds we have to pull gets smaller and smaller, but the garden of our lives, like any garden, will probably always have at least a few weeds that sprout up and require our attention.