We escape the womb living only to take our first breath already dying. We swim or get yanked out of our warm mother’s birthing bin and it must feel like “Ta-dah!” That quickly turns to “Oh no! Not yet!” We really are born dying but I don’t think it is kosher for me to remind you of that. Nobody wants to hear or think about the impending news that they’re dying. Maybe that’s why we don’t ever acknowledge we’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 I’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 I’m feeling. Creationists surely will understand. The average American won’t be accustomed to the need for this new adjective I’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 I’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. I’m a bit rammier than that husband of mine so I’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. It’s a prayer tent in my mind. t’s a confessional despite there being no priest present and I’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. It’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, “Hello” 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. It’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 don’t hate a dandelion. Who hates a dandelion? If you hate dandelions it’s because someone told you to. They taught you that dandelions are bad. Be careful what you learn.
Being hated doesn’t feel so good whether you’re a human, a moth, a frog or a weed and you can’t argue that. If we paid as much attention to affection for others as we do to our yards I think we’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 you’ve got to hate then hate things like the carcinogenic chemicals in weed killers and pesticides.
Since I am dying as I’m living I might as well die living happy. I’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 “Ta-dah” of swimming out of my mother’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.