We All Should Learn to Weed
I don't have green thumbs. I'm only beginning to understand how to keep plants alive. But I've learned just enough to realize something: we all should learn to weed, and weed well.
This summer, I planted a small garden. It was a surprise for my wife Kristen, who was away on business. She just wanted the weeds in our barren backyard gone, but as I began digging and pulling, I I quickly wanted to do something more and make it special for her.
My dad, an experienced gardener, came over to help, and within a day, the barren soil was enriched with nutrients and flowers and vegetable plants adorned our simple home.
Then, slowly but surely, the weeds came.
At first, I didn't mind. I even admired them, coming up in green leaves and surrounding the plants and flowers more beautifully than the pale, tall grass that was there before. Yet, whenever my dad came over, he warned me that I needed to remove them. I tried now and again, but I was so busy with work and writing that it was hard to find the motivation and energy.
Ultimately, I procrastinated because I thought they were harmless. Then my flowers started dying.
They were watered twice a day. They were given rich soil. They had been flowering well up until then. What was happening? I looked closely and found the villain: the weeds.
Weeds don't just grow in our gardens
As I knelt down and looked closely, I realized what the weeds had actually been up to. They weren't honorable tenants. They were parasites. Their roots had run deep and wrapped themselves around the flowers' stems and roots. But not only were they stealing nutrients; they were loosening the soil around the flowers, drying the roots out and letting insects climb down and devour them.
"How dare you?" I thought, an unexpected surge of anger rushing through me.
I dedicating my next hour to pulling every weed out.
"I didn't want you here, but I let you stay. How dare you harm my little plants and steal from them. How dare you try to stop me from having the special garden I planted for Kristen."
Something occurred to me over that hour as such thoughts ran through my head. How many things in my life do I let 'weeds' get to. How many times do I allow them to sap my resources, energy, and let parasites devour my dreams? And how dare I let them?
We don't always get to decide what is good enough
It was an unusually profound moment in the garden for me. I thought I knew what was good enough to get the result I wanted. I was watering. The soil was great. But this is where the analogy ends.
The fact is that I didn't know what was good enough because I was doing something I never had before. Some people might have been okay with a few dead flowers if the garden was fine, but it wasn't good enough for me. I had to figure out why I wasn't getting the results I was hoping for.
Some people decide good enough along the way. Good enough also can change based on circumstances. The bigger our aspirations, the harder 'good enough' can be to achieve. But when we decide what we want, we need to know what the weeds are, and how to pluck them up.
Or maybe we have multiple aspirations. Several gardens to attend to, like learning a new language, losing 20 pounds, getting a promotion at work, saving enough to go on a dream vacation, writing a critically acclaimed novel, etc. We have to decide how many gardens we can weed, how many little things we are able to pay attention to so that when something we want deep down is in front of us, we are willing to do what is enough.
I will weed my garden. I will learn through hard experience what is good enough to write a great story that thousands will love and do them.
What are the weeds you need to find?