This I Believe

Amy - Bainbridge Island, Washington
Entered on April 27, 2007

I believe in choosing my battles carefully and then achieving my goal with hard work and persistence. In my career in Information Technology and as a Naval Officer, I’ve practiced this belief for years typically with success.

Lately, I decided I deserved a break so I’ve retired, at least temporarily, but I find my old work habits have followed me. Looking for something to occupy myself in retirement, I turned my attention to the lawn and garden, which I’ve neglected for years except for growing a few flowers. This spring as I looked across the lawn I saw the happy yellow faces of hundreds of dandelions and I thought, “Something must be done!” Dandelions are sort of pretty but eventually they become invasive and leggy and with them I knew I’d never have the flawless, emerald sea of grass I thought I wanted.

I considered my options, chemical warfare came to mind but I quickly disregarded it. We live near the Puget Sound and I don’t want fertilizers and herbicides from my lawn polluting it. That left the other major option hand digging them, a task that combines my old habits, persistence and hard work. Without further consideration, I grabbed my slightly bent dandelion digger and worked for about three hours. I eliminated most of the yellow flowers from my lawn. I was hot, dirty and a little stiff as a result but I came into the house happy with my work.

The next morning I looked across the yard and saw… yellow flowers and white seed heads. As I pulled the seed heads off before they could blow away, I felt a little guilty thinking of the kids who blow on them and make a wish. Then it occurred to me that for every child’s wish, the dandelion also makes a wish that the tiny seed on its silken parachute will find fertile ground and will send its deep tap root into the soil and establish a plant. I also remembered seeing a greeting card with a quote that said something like “All flowers have an angel bending over them whispering, ‘Grow, Grow!’”

It was then I realized that I had broken my principle of choosing my battles carefully. As a working woman my adversaries were mere mortals, but here I was up against Mother Nature herself. The best I could do, without cheating and using poisons, machines or a team of weed-pullers, was to achieve a brief stalemate and eventually Mother Nature would take over again. I’m thinking of replacing the grass with a garden soon. But for now, I just bow to Mother Nature’s superior tenacity and do the best I can and as I work I listen for the angels whispering “Grow, Grow!”