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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The shame of crabgrass and other life lessons



In my neighborhood I’m the only one who mows their own lawn. I feel competitive with all those lawn service guys who come through the password coded gates. For the past three years I was more than a match for their fancy mowers, edgers, weed-eaters, blowers and chemical sprays.

This year I’ve made some mistakes in the weed killing department and I can see disdain on the faces of my neighbors. Crabgrass has invaded stealthily despite my seasonal applications of herbicides. A man doing his own lawn was questionable before. Now all the questions have been cleared up. My neighbors see me as a failed individual, someone to be pitied.

Thanks to years of psychotherapy I’ve been able to deal with this latest setback. My sessions with Mavis, the psychologist, have served me well. It helped me make the transition from television journalist to college educator and 50 something father of a two an half year old.

Psychotherapy has given me the freedom not to feel guilty, for not watching Meet the Press every week.

As I mow I think about important life lessons. There’s a minister who lives nearby. He doesn’t mow his own yard. You can see the reverend jogging in 100 degree temperatures. Somehow I think I get closer to God with my electric lawnmower. If it works for him that’s fine.

I’ve been re-reading Studs Terkel's, “Talking to Myself.” His biography is a random collection of memories; mowing allows me to reflect on my own life memories and lessons. It gives me time to think about where I am and where I want to go.

On Father’s Day morning at five A.M., I could hear my youngest calling from his crib, “Daddy where are you?” It’s a good question. I think my answers to that question are getting better.

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