By Tim Hayes
Pulling into the driveway after running an errand the other evening, I glanced over at a corner of the front yard where layers of river rock have been serving a decorative function for a couple of years – only to find a spiky green weed sticking up from the rubble.
We’ve all seen this. How, despite every precaution and preventative effort – rolls of black netting from the garden center at Home Depot, layers of sand and rock meticulously placed like giant landscaped lasagna – the weed still finds a way to poke through. It’s maddening. Or at least it used to be.
I’m to the point now where the realization has come home to roost. Life finds a way. Light finds a way. Hope finds a way. We may think we’re in control, able to manipulate every variable, snuff out every possible opposition, keep every impediment cleared from our path. But that’s nonsense. Hopeless, pointless nonsense.
The world becomes a much more open, relaxed, pleasant place when you stop seeing that persistent weed as a problem, but instead as a source of inspiration. As the wonderful Mary Chapin Carpenter sings in “What You Look For”*…
What you look for on a dirty street / Is a patch of green beneath your feet / A stubborn weed or a traveling rose / Either one lives to grow
Send it out into the universe / A humble plea, a wish, a broken verse / Be a seed that lands inside the cracks / Seek the sun and it shines back
We’re seeing a lot of friends of our kids getting married, moving away from home, spreading their wings. Our kids are in that group, as well. And while it’s predominantly exciting and thrilling and hopeful, there’s a part of me that knows those young people are also in for bouts with sickness, money troubles, loneliness and some heartache along the way, too.
The thing that brings me out of that funk, though, again comes back to that pesky weed out in the front yard. No rough stretch lasts forever. When you stay strong, stay positive, seek and accept help when needed, the brightness returns. And usually the experience only serves to make you smarter, tougher, more resilient for the next test.
The nation has been enduring some testing. The coronavirus, the battered economy, the rising call for attention to racial issues, and an increasingly nasty election season, can make it feel like we’ll never come out the other end of this thing with our equilibrium in balance again.
But we will. Decency, honesty, integrity, compassion always win out. They have no choice. A universe of alternate reality, forced behavior, threatening rhetoric is not sustainable. People prefer to live in a calm, rational, fair society. The alternative only leads to a false narrative that has no other option than to collapse in time.
That’s what I’m holding onto. The inspiration, the model, the tenacity of that weed out front. Pile as many rocks on top as we may, it’s all for naught in the end. Life still finds a way. Light still finds a way. Hope still finds a way.
Be the seed that lands between the cracks. Seek the sun and watch it shine back.