Embrace the Weeds

‘Life is short. Play hard.’ – Reebok slogan. When I was younger, I adjusted this to Life is short. Be happy.

Now there’s a fickle thing. Figuring out happiness. Is it making a bajillion dollars, becoming a NYT bestseller, marrying the lady of your dreams? Is it living the bohemian lifestyle with not a worry in the world beyond what to use for toilet paper?

Weeds will follow you wherever you end up. Some seemingly inconsequential (e.g., laundry, apple procurement), others seemingly indestructible (e.g., MS). The more you concentrate on them, the more they grow. The more they grow, the more you concentrate on them. The pursuit of the weedless dream will only end in more weeds. ‘They’re everywhere, man’ (said Bill Paxton, Aliens-style).

Thus, as Tara alluded to in her wonderful post, the pursuit of perfection must be overrated. Right?

Call me devil’s advocate or call me a middle child, but my answer is no. In fact, I would argue that Tara is well on the way to perfection herself (and I envy her for it).

Now, what is perfect? There’s the rub. Let’s go back to our weed-filled gardens. You’ve got your roses in yours, which I think smell kinda rank and I’ve got my dandelions that you lump in with my weeds. My garden’s an eyesore to you and yours reeks like donkey ass to me. Whatever.  I do not define your garden, nor do you define mine. I will not let your interpretation of beauty sully my efforts to cultivate my view of it, nor should you allow mine to interfere with yours. Perfect is in the heart of the perfecter (okay, doesn’t quite work, but screw it, this is my weedy garden, complete with bad metaphors and pg-13 words).

Even without all that outside noise of life hammering away at you, it’s hard to cultivate your garden just so. Damn hard. No pain, no gain, right? Well, there’s gonna be lots of pain. In the game of life, there is no greater risk-reward gamble than the pursuit of perfection. Have no doubt, your weeds will multiply and disseminate. A veritable labyrinth will form, so thick you might not be able to see anything else.

Our private garden of eventual perfection could become an endless jungle of omnipresent misery. This is the peril of the pursuit. Doubt and fear and stagnation. Dreams of better yesterdays and brighter tomorrows fade until even your favorite flowers remind you of those horrid weeds.

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Embrace weeds, but not these.

But this is your garden. Those weeds are yours. A few might go away. Most won’t. New ones will grow for sure. They are all part of you. Scars, blemishes, foibles, imperfections, weaknesses, weeds. Whatever you want to name/condemn them, they are all part of you.

They are part of the perfect you. 

Pursue the most perfect you. Embrace the weeds.  

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6 Comments

Filed under Writing and Life

6 responses to “Embrace the Weeds

  1. Clearly you don’t live in Colorado, where the weeds have leaves like barbed wire and roots like sissal rope snaking across your yard. And grow in the winter because the sun is so strong. It is a never-ending battle, my friend. But seriously, I have a Zen quote taped to the front of one of my notebooks: “Be grateful for the weeds you have in your mind, because eventually they will enrich your practice.” (Practice meaning your meditation, but I take the broader meaning of my work). For me, it’s a very personal challenge because as a perfectionist who can’t stand clutter or anything out of place, this philosophy — your philosophy — feels like burrs on my skin. But truly I would not change what I’ve been through because it made me who I am. Those weeds have enriched me. Just don’t make me look at them in my garden. 😉

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    • Joshua McCune

      We get weeds year round in San Antonio, unfortunately (that pic was taken yesterday in my backyard :)), though none of the rope variety, which just sound like tons o fun to deal with.

      Unfortunately, I also share that perfectionist trait. I have way too much trouble accepting my limitations/weaknesses. Just means I gotta try harder right? A part of me knows that I need to accept the yin with the yang, but, yeah, it’s a hard road to hoe.

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  2. Thanks for this inspiring post! Last month, I heard a writer speak about the bitterness that can crop up when a friend gets the big contract/award/fan club/invitation to the White House/etc. She said that sure, it would be great to have whatever Thing, but then you’d have to BE that person, write their books and not yours, live their life. Despite our problems, nobody in the audience wanted to switch lives with someone else. Love the idea of embracing the weeds. Maybe I’ll put the mower away and just let the dandelions be.

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    • Joshua McCune

      It’s something I struggle with, for sure, Adi. Chasing the carrot of somebody else’s success. Definitely leads you into bad territory. Accept who you are and what you have, warts and all. Very easy to espouse, much harder to achieve.

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  3. I didn’t get around to reading this until today, Joshua, but I think it’s what I needed on this day. Thank you. Embracing my weeds has always been a huge challenge for me, but one that I need to –well– embrace.

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  4. Pingback: Need some writing inspiration? Turn on the radio. | EMU's Debuts

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