After a long day at work, my parents came home and announced that we'd be devoting our evening to a fun family bonding activity. And to this I jumped up in excitement, wondering what, pray tell, we'd be doing tonight. Well, it turns out they wanted to work on our garden. And by working on our garden, they meant Weed Pulling.
And so decked out in sweatpants (yes, I do own a pair), t-shirt, and a ponytail, my parents and I set out to methodically pull out weeds in our front yard. We've had no time to take care of our grass this summer, and our front yard is literally dying. We're that family on your street you stare at because their front yard has turned an interesting shade of brown. Even nature needs some TLC, friends. We filled bags to the brim with countless weeds. And quite honestly, the process was incredibly time-consuming. Weeds not only kill your grass, but they take forever to find and pull out, especially if you pull them away from the root. Trying to find the rest of the root is downright annoying, especially when they've grown particularly deep.
Weeds are incredibly hard to completely destroy because they dig roots so deep into your soil. Although you try to pull out as much as you can, roots that remain allow weeds to survive despite your greatest efforts. They dig its claws so very deep into the heart of the growing process that healthy, beautiful gass can be damaged, maimed, and eventually destroyed if the roots of weeds aren't pulled out completely.
I'm obviously not a professional gardener. So why am I explaining what I learned during my Dad's (super awesome) family bonding activity? To show off my (not so awesome) botanical knowledge? Wellllll, no. Actually, I think my brief stint as the family gardener can remind us all of an important life lesson we can take with us to grad school, to our (new) jobs and of course, throughout the course of life. Yes friends, even weeds can teach us about a common aspect of human emotion and about our relationships with strangers and each other.
Remember the cashiers at your local Loblaws who rolled their eyes when you asked if the laundry detergent was on sale (let's face it, we're students & we're cheap)? Or the girl who talked behind your back in high school with rumours that were totally false? Or the the guy who boasts about his imaginary riches to impress whoever listens? Or the pitiful girl who self-righteously snarks about girls who go shopping even though she participates in the same activities herself? Or the people who snap at you when you accidentally bump into them on the sidewalk? Or the people who walk past you without saying hello even though they clearly saw you (hi, are you twelve?)? Friends, who are we kidding? We meet so-called "jerks" everyday. And no matter what we say to them, they're too wrapped up in protecting themselves and their own perspectives that they make no effort to be understanding, kind, or accommodating to others.
Case in point: My Dad and I were walking past the Premier Fitness at the plaza on Dundas and Dixie over the weekend when we saw a big red sign that said "Free Hot Dog Lunch!" A few other people paused in interest, and we all walked over. The guy beside the sign told us that we had to obtain a lunch ticket inside the gym. So we all headed inside (around 8 of us) to obtain this awesome, free lunch ticket! Booyah! This was perfect, we were staving! And so my Dad and another man went to the front desk and had the following conversation:
Girl At The Front Desk: Can I help you guys?
Dad and Other Man: Yeah, is there a free lunch ticket we can get?
Girl At The Front Desk: *stares at them, then rolls her eyes*
Girl At The Front Desk: (ignores them and turns to the 2 other girls at the desk) Oh my GOD, what is wrong with people today? What kind of cheap idiots keep wanting free stuff?
You read that right. She really said that. Brilliant response to potential Premier Fitness customers, yes?
I'm heading to a new school and a new city in September. And I'm sure many of you reading this will be starting new phases of your lives someday soon. Let my gardening adventures remind all of us that, in the various situations of everyday life, we can meet a number of rude, sullen, snarky, or self-righteous people. It happens all the time. People rub you the wrong way and you wonder why. And quite honestly, when you think about it, the reasons behind such attitudes compare very much to the stubborn roots killing the grass in my front yard.
Huh? Lost? Let me explain. I've come to realize that these people have deeper problems than what shows at face value. Rudeness, snark, and self-righteousness can be the result of problems that have dug roots into the soil of their hearts and minds, with their pain manifesting through to their actions and to how they treat others. From the snarky girl actually struggling for acceptance and love from her husband, to the angry man you bumped into on the sidewalk painstakingly trying to fix his relationship with his wife, to the rude cashier worrying about her financial situation, to the rude acquaintance struggling for self-confidence and control, to the girl who spread rumours because of self-esteem issues.
Just like the weeds and grass growing in my front yard, I'm sure we all know that humans have roots. Love, pain, joy, happiness, misery, longing: human emotions have roots that dig so very deep into the heart, fueled by (often complicated) relationships and (somtimes disheartening) circumstances beyond anyone's control. Although it may be hard to accept, I think we should remember that the people who are rude to us may have a deeper, more complex reason for being so. Maybe they don't mean to specifically hurt us or attack us. On the contrary, their anger is directed at us for a reason that may not be related to us at all.
We all have problems of some sort. And I suppose the more disheartening, painful circumstances of life can affect how people negatively treat others. And while we may never want to be friends with these people (like we'd ever want to be friends with Jenny Humphrey?), let my front yard adventures teach us all something about the importance of compassion and love towards those who need it. The amount of time it took for me to pull out those (annoying) weeds helped me realize that just like the strong, deep weeds damaging my grass, humans as well have deep, complex problems that have strong roots. And without invested time, love, compassion, and kindness, these roots will harden and damage relationships if they aren't completely pulled out and forever destroyed.
Let's be careful with the people we meet. I've learned very recently that, cliche as it may be, there's more to a person than meets the eye. And while their rudeness will forever be a turn-off, we shouldn't settle on despising them. And while we can't fix their problems, we can do something else. We can try to understand them.
"There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist."
~ Mark Twain