Adam Again. "Deep." Dig. 1992.
This is just so rife with analogies, I’m not going to insult anyone by pointing them out; I’m just going to let them speak for themselves.
About four months ago, we moved into a home here in Columbia, SC. This past Friday (21 October), while Kai and I were playing outside, I decided to finally take care of something that had been annoying me for several weeks. On the side of out house, where the yard has a somewhat steep incline, there were a number of roots sticking up in the dirt. Old roots, from where a tree had apparently once stood. The tree itself was long gone, but these roots were still there, embedded in the soil. Since Kai loves to run in the yard (I don’t think my kid was born with a “walk” setting), and especially since he has recently found out “Hey – I can walk – nay; RUN up and down this hill all on my own,” these roots which were once just annoying soon became dangerous. I mean, I didn’t want him to trip on one of them, fall down, and potentially hurt himself because they weren’t removed. These things served no purpose, save to remind me of where a tree once stood; so, it was time to get rid of them.
This is the first time I’ve not lived in an apartment or residence hall in…well, let’s just say years, and leave it at that. As such, since I had no need for any yard equipment, I had nothing with which to do any outside work when we got here. This has since been rectified after more than a few trips to Ye Old Home Improvement Store. One of the reasons I had not attempted to get rid of these roots was because they looked kind of imposing. I mean, we’re talking about roots that were a good 1-2 inches in diameter that were jutting out from the ground. Partially covered by the ground surrounding them, I had no clue how deep they ran, how many there were, or what the length of the things were below the surface.
So, after going to the basement to grab a shovel, a spade, and a pair of hedge clippers (look, I never said I was GOOD at yardwork; and anyway, I wanted all the tools I had with me in case I needed them), I decided to just tackle one of the roots while Kai was distracted with a pile of rocks or something. I reached down, grabbed one of the roots, gave it a good, hard pull…
…and I almost fell backwards down the incline.
Once I began to pull these roots out, I was amazed at how…brittle…they were. How non-threatening they were. I mean, yes, I’m smart enough to realize that once they were cut off from the source of where they got nourishment, they would bound to die. But like I stated: these were sizeable roots. They’d been there a while, and I thought that it was going to take a lot of effort to get rid of them. Granted, it WAS taking effort, but not nearly as much as I thought it might.
It wasn’t nearly as impossible as I had led myself to believe that it would be.
Yes, it would have been easier to leave the roots there. I’m sure that I could have found something else to do with my time that afternoon. I mean, I saw them every time I came and went from the house, but were they really bothering anyone? Dry, dead roots on a dry, barren ground might not be the most appealing visual, but were they really HURTING anyone by their presence?
No. Just sitting there, they weren’t hurting anyone, but that’s not why I got rid of them. I did this as much for Kai as I did for me: I didn’t want my laziness in getting rid of something potentially dangerous to cause him to stumble and trip, and I needed to clear some space for something alive and not dead to be there.
To be honest: it was a dirty, sweaty, time-consuming effort, but I knew that I needed to get these things up and out. Not only for the safety of Kai, but also so that they could stop choking out the space that was needed for something new to grow. Even someone like me who has a limited amount of gardening knowledge knows that for new life to grow and take root, you have to get rid of the old – including the undergrowth.
What really messed with my mind and made me hyper-think of this as a spiritual allegory was when I went out the next morning to see the yard. Astonishingly, it looked nothing like what I thought it might: the landscape was not irreparably scarred by the removal of these roots. The trenches in the ground where I had pulled all these roots up had been filled and tramped down by my footprints while I had worked on them. You couldn’t tell what had been there just a few hours beforehand. You couldn’t see the dead any longer. And here I thought it would have just been less messy to leave them where they were...
To be fair, I could still see them in my mind. I knew the exact placement of each of them, and I knew what was under that footprint in the ground. I knew approximately how deep that hole in the ground that had been filled up was. I know that in time I won’t remember the details. I won’t remember the work it took to get them up, or how messy it was.
I’ll just see my kid running and playing on fresh, new grass, and that’s all I’ll need to see.