April 16, 2022

I Am Thinking About Weeds


No, not the ones in my yard, though I have plenty of them at this time of year. I am thinking of the weeds in my life I need to pull out and discard. Just like the type in a yard, these "weeds" tend to grow and multiply if not removed as soon as they appear.

Experts say there are approximately 1,000 different plants that are classified as weeds. The good news is I don't think I have that many personal ones to worry about. The bad news is that when I notice a problem, it has already put down pretty substantial roots.

A few examples? I could start with anxiety. I mean the common garden variety of worry or apprehension about something that did happen, is happening or may occur. That could include remembering mistakes in judgment or approach during my working days that caused my business to suffer. If I could just go back and react differently! Or, what if Covid comes back? Will we all survive another major lockdown or disruption?

It might be silly or hurtful arguments with Betty that served no purpose. After my heart problems half a dozen years ago, an earache that won't go away, and an overall dip in energy caused by some of the new medication, I find the weeds of anxiety over my health can grow unchecked. Does the anxiety make any of this better? Of course not, probably just the opposite.

Even though I maintain a self-image of being rather tolerant and without obvious prejudices, I often catch myself making statements about people or situations that are hurtful or simply wrong. As much as I find various forms of labeling others to be counterproductive, I commit the same sin much too often. The weeds of being judgmental or biased grow out of sight until they are exposed by the bright light of an action or thought.

Too much of my life is given over to the weeds of settling, that is settling for less than I should.  As I get older, I find it much too easy to become lazy. If doing something seems too hard or time-consuming I am becoming an expert at rationalizing why I should wait, or skip the activity completely. "I will deal with it tomorrow or next week" is not a good habit to develop, but it is especially disappointing as birthdays seem to fly by more quickly each year. Next month I will be 73. Me?

What about follow-through? That would be a close relative of settling. I have started, stopped, and restarted various activities or projects too many times to count. Usually, I rebel at being a beginner, a subject I have written about several times before. In other instances whatever burst of dedication prompted me to do something, seems to seep out, wither away.

A slacking off on my physical conditioning and regular exercise are weeds that I pull constantly, only to find a fresh batch has grown unnoticed after a few days or weeks of skimping on my gym attendance. There is a direct correlation between physical health and quality of life. I know that yet those pesky weeds are still there.

The encouraging news is that the lawn of my life is mostly healthy, green, grass. The weeds are a blot on the overall look, though not so much that I am not enjoying the heck out of retirement. Even so, pulling those weeds is part of living. 

Has anyone seen my gardening gloves?


  1. Welcome to the human race, Bob. All of us have many weeds to pull, but only a few brave and wise ones like us will admit it publicly. My dearly departed wife suffered with anxiety her whole life, and it became severe in her last decade. During that time, she rarely left the house, but still found much to be anxious about. I only discovered toward the end just how serious it was. I tried to get her to go for professional help, but of course, she refused.

    As you know I am heading out on an extended roadtrip soon and will be in your neck of the woods in a couple of weeks. I would love to stop in and meet you and Betty in person?

    1. We would love getting together. After an 10 year virtual relationship it is about time!

    2. My feelings exactly. On the right-hand side of my site is a private "contact me" widget. Send me some info so that I know where I am going 🥸. I will likely be there sometime in mid-May and will let you know a few days before I show up.

  2. Good analogy, Bob. My mom often said a weed was just a perennial gone amok. And it's true, the same action or thought could be construed as "good" or "bad" depending upon the circumstances or environment. I can be a great procrastinator usually rationalizing that some task would be too hard or take to long to complete then it's done in half the time and I have to laugh at myself - I spent more time procrastinating than if I'd have just got on with it. I'm learning to "smile and nod" more rather than wasting my breath. So often there's just no point in engaging; everyone has their opinion and are more interested in their own than mine. There's a tape playing in my brain and after 65 years I've learned to change that tape somewhat. Walk a mile in my shoes? Ha! Spend 30 min in my head if you want to go for a ride!! Weeds are inevitable unless you live in a completely sterile environment. I wouldn't want that either so I'm committed to "weeding the garden".

    1. Weeding the garden of our life is pretty much a never-ending task. But as you note, living completely weed-free would be not much of an existence. It meant you never really risked feelings, experiences, relationships and self-growth.

      30 minute ride inside your head? Sure. Let me put on my VR headset!

  3. Oh my gosh, this one made me laugh in self-recognition. I bet there will not be a single reader who will not relate to this post. Your observations about anxiety made me think of a Dalai Lama quote: "If a problem has a solution, there is no need to worry. If a problem does not have a solution, there is no need to worry."

    I also laughed at Mona's comment above "Spend 30 minutes in my head if you want to go for a ride!" Someone once told me that my mind was a scary place. No doubt.

    Thanks for a clear look in the mirror this morning. What a great analogy to the garden and weeds as spring arrives and all sorts of plants are sprouting in the garden!

    1. I have read that Dalai Lama quote before, it is one of my favorites. Now if I could incorporate in my life!

      It is Saturday and I am doing lawn work. This post is perfect for my chores today.

      Thanks, Galen. And, no, you don't want to visit too deeply in my mind, either.

  4. Since I adopted a secular Buddhist philosophy some years ago, most of my anxiety has dropped away. So much of my angst was because of "attachments;" to my job, possessions, experiences and activities, even people. One of the best gifts of aging for me is a sense of the need to "let go." Not to abandon life, but to consciously release and surrender gracefully the things that no longer serve me or in some cases are no longer within my capabilities. I find that most of my stress and conflict with others can be traced to my ego and my unwillingness to let go of my attachments. My use of stoicism has been helpful, too. If a concern or issue arises, I try to ask myself, "can I do anything about this?" If yes, I act. If no, I try to accept it in peace. This has been especially helpful with my news media consumption. There are so many disturbing stories that I have absolutely no means to act on in response--no way to help. I let them go and my anxiety with it.

    Epictetus, the stoic philosopher captured it best, I think: "People are not troubled by things, but by the view they take of things." Something we can control if we wish.

    As usual, thanks for the thought provoking post.

    Rick in Oregon

    1. As I was scrolling through the news updates this pretty Sunday morning, becoming agitated and concerned, I thought about your comment regarding news consumption, and stopped.

      Let it go, let it all go sprang to mind.

      Thanks, Rick

  5. Been there, still doing that. I'm pretty sure we all have weeds in our life's garden... the important thing is to root them out when we can, and let as few new ones take hold as possible. Speaking of weeds, I've been putting off my daily walk... time to get going :)

  6. Oh boy, I think my garden is very weedy!! I love your analogy. Exercise seems to be the most stubborn weed. I’m hoping warmer weather might take care of it. Good luck with your own weeding!!