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We escape the womb living only to take our first breath already dying. We swim or get yanked out of our warm motherâ€™s birthing bin and it must feel like â€śTa-dah!â€ť That quickly turns to â€śOh no! Not yet!â€ť We really are born dying but I donâ€™t think it is kosher for me to remind you of that. Nobody wants to hear or think about the impending news that theyâ€™re dying. Maybe thatâ€™s why we donâ€™t ever acknowledge weâ€™re dying until we get older or we get hit with a chronic, terminal disease. Maybe my own chronic pain and my own disease process has turned me into what Iâ€™ve become.
I wish there was an adjective in any language that would perfectly proclaim this thing I feel. I can testify that this feeling is getting stronger and stranger with each passing day of my living life. Nature enthusiasts may be able to grasp what Iâ€™m feeling. Creationists surely will understand. The average American wonâ€™t be accustomed to the need for this new adjective Iâ€™m searching for and I acknowledge that.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact I turn the TV off and turn my senses on. Maybe it is a product of me being alone with a brain Iâ€™ve attempted to silence by wandering out among the weeds and the seeds and the sun that grows them. Or maybe I am just a fruit loop and am not ready to admit it. Whatever it is I dare to share with you.
I could hire someone to do it or I could buy a rider. Something on my surface tells me to push my trusted Briggs and Stratton self-propelled mower just to remind myself I still can. Everyone knows being on the move motivates our joints to make juices that keep us jumping, walking, talking and mowing. Iâ€™m a bit rammier than that husband of mine so Iâ€™m the woman to get the yard done. To most people mowing the yard is nothing but a chore. To me it is a holy revival. Itâ€™s a prayer tent in my mind. tâ€™s a confessional despite there being no priest present and Iâ€™m not a Catholic. In my youth mowing the lawn was fun the first time my daddy let me do it.
As I became a teenager mowing became a punishment shared between my two brothers and me. Now it has become something that feels like a 2 x 4 across my head by the God of creation. I began noticing this thing I need an adjective for late last summer.
I prime the whatcha-ma-call-it, thing-a-ma-jigger on the lawn mower and he starts right up.
I just have to pull back on the handlebar and he mows without me having to push too much. Itâ€™s at this point it begins.
Mowing the lawn takes as much brainpower as it does to talk to people nowadays. When I talk to anybody I have to first determine what I can say without offending because nearly anything past the word, â€śHelloâ€ť could offend someone. Brainwork. Ouch.
When I mow I have to look ahead of each step. As I get close to a clump of dandelions I have to pray. Their beautiful yellow heads are looking right at me as I behead them with the mower blade. I can hardly take it. I walk a few more steps and just as the blade hits the grass a big moth gets cut in half as it tries to escape its living place with the rude intrusion of my mower. Itâ€™s always too late. I murder those that mingle in the wild and unruly lawn. I save every toad and frog by mowing pulling instead of pushing my mighty machine. I kick the grass for them to jump out of the way as I pull the mower backwards so I never have to kill a thing that is living and breathing.
Hate is a learned response. Come on. You donâ€™t hate a dandelion. Who hates a dandelion? If you hate dandelions itâ€™s because someone told you to. They taught you that dandelions are bad. Be careful what you learn.
Being hated doesnâ€™t feel so good whether youâ€™re a human, a moth, a frog or a weed and you canâ€™t argue that. If we paid as much attention to affection for others as we do to our yards I think weâ€™d value life more.
The adjective I need is one that describes this sensual sensitivity of mine to things that have no way to speak for themselves. Can you help me? If youâ€™ve got to hate then hate things like the carcinogenic chemicals in weed killers and pesticides.
Since I am dying as Iâ€™m living I might as well die living happy. Iâ€™m going to sit on my deck sucking the straw of a Dairy Queen strawberry and banana malt watching my dandelions grow back.
While I do I will be hoping that dying will feel more like the â€śTa-dahâ€ť of swimming out of my motherâ€™s birthing bin and not like getting my head cut off by a mower with an attitude. Hate less. Love more.
Blonde on the Prairie
Ingstad lives on the prairie near Valley City and writes this column for the Times-Record.