Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gone to Seed

The Buddhists advise that we should suspend our expectations and just accept things as they are to avoid suffering. Sometimes that works; sometimes it doesn’t.

We have had the same man cutting our lawn for about six years. He’s in his fifties, a former air force pilot, who lives about five blocks away. He shows up sporadically, which works well with our budget. Unfortunately, this year, he didn’t show up at all. So we called. He apologized and promised he would be at our place the next day. But the next day came and he was nowhere to be seen. So we called, again, and he promised, again. This dance of futility took place for three weeks.

"A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it."—Dogen Zenji  (Japanese Buddhist monk and philosopher 1200-1253)

Finally, we decided to opt for another contractor who hopefully wouldn’t stand us up. Our lawn was up to our knees and we now understood what it meant for something to go to seed. Our neighbors were eyeing us disdainfully like the Untouchables of the block. Their lawns were pristine and perfectly groomed. Ours was mostly weeds—and tall ones at that. Unacceptable in a suburban New Jersey neighborhood. Normally, when our weeds are cut, they pass for lawn. But uncut, Nature’s charade is unmasked….

I called another lawn service and they promised they would come by the same day to cut our unruly lawn. Like an optimistic puppy, I waited with the expectation that they would add us to the end of their work day. Toward 7:30 p.m., the day’s light began to soften and dim. Our lawn still looked wild and free, its long, flowing tresses blowing in the wind.

"Weeds are the bane of fields, delusion is the bane of mankind."—Buddha

And so, I called. A cheerful woman answered, wishing me a good morning, even though it was clearly evening here. Perhaps she had recorded her message in a different time zone? By my calculations, if she felt it was appropriate to wish me good morning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, then she must be in Tokyo, where it was about 8:30 a.m. the next day. Nevertheless, I left a message in English asking when my lawn would be cut. Since it was Friday, I did not know if they worked on weekends or if I would have to wait until Monday to have my lawn mythically cut.

Perhaps... our yard had a magical Weed Nymph passionately protecting it from lawnmowers, and thus, due to her otherworldly powers, it would never be cut. One never knows.

"Weeds choke the field. Passion poisons the nature of man."—Buddha

Finally, on Saturday, the new contractor's staff showed up and gave our yard a crew cut, thus confirming my theory about the Tokyo time zone. After all, when he promised they would show up the same day, Friday, it was already Saturday in Japan. So, in a strange way, by mowing our grass midday Saturday, the lawn service manager had conscientiously kept his word. Ha! Well... Take that, Weed Nymph!

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