Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Weeds, Mud, & Love

My heart thinks it's spring.

I have the urge to get out and muck around in the dirt. This is surprising, mostly because I kill any plant I've ever tried to grow. I murdered a cactus, once.

I'm almost positive it has less to do with any green thumb I don't possess, and more to do with the fact I've been pruning my life, lately. I started a new job a few months ago. It's physical; it's exhausting; it's stressful. And so, of course, I love it. It couldn't be more different than teaching. That may be part of the appeal. I've found parts of myself I didn't know were there. I've strengthened pieces of myself that needed to be nurtured. There's a value in it which I appreciate. I take pride in it.

Too often, we tie our sense of self-worth to who we think we are and the jobs we do. I was guilty of this. When I was no longer teaching, I handed away a large portion of my identity and value. I felt I had failed and was stripped of myself, somehow. Over the past few months, something paradoxical has happened. As I've dragged home exhausted from lifting, tugging, sweating in a dusty warehouse, I managed to find more of myself than I ever lost. There's a joy in doing a job well, whatever it may be. There's a satisfaction in knowing the value comes, not necessarily from the function itself, but from the drive to be and do the best you can. The comparison is not to others, but to the inner standards I set. Can I go home at night and look myself in the eye, knowing I did the best I could do? My best. That's where my value lies.

Snip, snip...trim away the illusions I'd carried.

I've also been cutting away the dead growth of my relationships, pruning to open up my time, energy, and affections to those people who can and could mean something to my life...and I to theirs.

There are those people who, in the garden of life, function as weeds. They choke growth. They steal the sunshine from our days. They suck out all the hope and joy and laughter. They're insidious-spreading quickly into our lives and taking root wherever we'll let them. And where they sprouted, I saw myself wither and begin to die. Life has taught me one thing very well in the past few years. Pluck them out quickly. And, so, I have.

Now, after the way has been cleared, it's time to water and feed what's left: the things and people who make me want to be better.

These are the plants entitled to real estate in my heart.

Spring cleaning my head and heart...it sure beats mopping, any day.

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