I love analogies.
It’s just the way my mind works. I just have a need to break everything down to its simplest form.
I probably preface most things I say with “It’s like…,” and I often feel people cringe when those words come out of my mouth.
Many years ago, I moved into a new house. It has an immense lawn. I eventually bought a lawn tractor, but not until the leaves were changing. I spent most of the summer on foot, chugging along with a shitty push mower.
There’s nothing like mowing to clear your mind of the extraneous crap and just focus on a topic. For all the dirt I picked up on my exterior, (sticking to the sweat of those blazing summer days), an equal bit of muck was wiped away from my mind through this Zen-like task of straight lines.
Just give me straight rows. It satisfies some part of me that craves order. I want to look back and see nice, orderly lines behind me.
That summer, when I wasn’t concerning myself with my OCD for the symmetrical, I was thinking.
The emotional kind.
You see, life is like mowing the lawn.
(Don’t roll your eyes yet.)
Each year of my life is like a row that I’ve mowed. As I’m going along, I might come across something that the universe has put in my way. Once, it was a big yoga ball (of all things) that my son was playing with in the back yard.
Now, my mower had that handle that you have to hold down to keep it running. If something is in my way, I’d have to let go of the handle and deal with it, which means the mower dies, and who knows how long it will take to get that piece of crap running again.
So, I could decide to just run it over, whatever it is. But that might make a mess when the blades cut it into a million pieces and it would certainly upset some children. But the yoga ball is fine. It’s too big to run over, and it rolls—I can just move it along with me, pushing it as I go.
But what about a plastic softball? That’s a problem.
Well, keeping a grip on the mower, I reached out a leg and kicked the thing to the right or the left.
The direction I choose is important.
Kick it to the left, and it’s on grass I haven’t mowed yet. I’m going to deal with it on the next row, or perhaps the one after that.
Why would I do that?
Because it’s easier at that moment. My right leg is stronger and kicking it left is avoiding pain. In love, you can think of that as pretty much doing nothing. Status quo.
If I kick it to right, it’s now on grass I’ve mowed. That’s my past. I’m probably not going to come across it again.
The point is, I’m done with it in my own mind. Nothing is in my way now. I’m at peace.
See, we have to make hard decisions in our lives sometimes.
They were put here in front of us, and perhaps moving them along with us isn’t possible. It might be easier to move them left—hoping that somehow circumstances could change and we can deal with the issues later. But we know our path isn’t really clear. Get to the next row, and you’ll wish you’d dealt with it sooner.
But moving them right, to our past, is hard.
There’s more pain involved.
Of course, I could take a risk and just keep that mower moving—hoping that I can just move it along with me or somehow leave the thing unscathed.
But, besides the mess it can create if I’m wrong, I can suffer some pain from that, too. Like the time I ended up with a chunk of rock being kicked up into my leg. I took a risk and paid the price.
Yes, that’s as true for love as it is for the grass-clipping world.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just take everything with you? Move with it forever? Well, you can’t.
Not everyone in your life can be the yoga ball. Maybe you thought they were at first. Or, you knew they weren’t, but you hoped they’d grow somehow. Don’t beat yourself up.
You might be reading this now, thinking about the plastic softball in your life. You don’t want to move it to the right.
It’s too hard—you just can’t do it.
Listen, friend. It’s a bizarre world out there. Anything can happen. The winds can blow them back to the left someday.
You’re a couple of rows over, and… holy shit. There they are again. But now they are totally yoga. It really happens to other people every day. If that helps you flip the bit, then think about it that way.
The odds are low, however, and you need to be sane. So flip the bit, and let them go. To the right.
Just mow, baby. Mow.