My regular lawn guy left me high and dry.
One day I went outside and noticed that the lawn was getting taller than usual and that I hadn’t seen my regular lawn guy recently. So I shot him a text. “Just checking in on everything!”
Later that afternoon I got a text informing me that he would no longer be able to service my lawn. I’ll admit, I felt a bit rejected. I quickly recovered and texted my back-up lawn guy (good to have options) and within a couple of weeks my lawn was back in its C+ condition (i need some landscaping done). In the interim, the shrubs had grown considerably so there were a ton of trimmings that had to be left in paper bags by the trash can.
These trimmings, limbs, and general yard waste didn’t bother me the first week they were out on the curb awaiting pick up from the garbage guys. Or the second. But by the third week, I was irritated by the sight of these three bags that were apparently invisible to the weekly garbage truck.
But, God wanted to give me a chance at redemption. It just happens that around week three, the electric company decided to do the yearly tree trimming for the power lines. They left a ton of limbs on my front yard on the first day of trimming. I was hopeful, but dubious. The new trimmings had bright green leaves, and looked as if they were still alive. It looked like they could just be sewn back onto the tree and they’d be back to exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen like they never stopped.
My bags of trimmings were old. Yellow and haggard, they wouldn’t fool the electric company’s tree disposal guys. They’d take one look at my trimmings and leave the three mounds of sticks and leaves right where they found them, i thought to myself. So I waited. By the middle of day one, the new electric company limbs were looking weathered. I left for work and returned. The next day I awoke early to take a glance at the front yard.
I was surprised by what I saw.
Just a couple of hours separated from the tree and the limbs were looking more like my old trimmings than they looked like the new trimmings that they were. I had to run to work so I didn’t have a chance to dump my trimmings onto the electric company’s. I decided I would do it once I returned. I was encouraged that upon my return, the electric company’s trimmings were just about indistinguishable from my almost month-old trimmings. I decided to do one more errand before I got down to the hot work of opening up my yard waste bags and dumping them on top of the electric companies.
Much to my chagrin, the sneaky electric company snuck in and got rid of them while I was celebrating the success of my master plan before its completion. smh.
However, as I was lamenting the failure of my leaf disposal plan and even more so my inability to act on the plan, something hit me. I realized that the lesson, wasn’t a lesson about acting fast. It wasn’t even a lesson about keeping other people accountable. The lesson was about connection.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been disconnected. Anyone who has known me for any amount of time could probably tell you that work is my drug. Self-improvement is my crack-cocaine. The quest for perfection is my idol & money is one of my favorite mile markers.
I’m in a constant battle with myself to pull back on my natural tendency towards being a workaholic and making sure that I’m investing in my relationships.
And I’ve been on a work-binge the last couple of weeks. A 60-hour-a-week bender.
I was working 10-12 hours every day until my body started to protest and came down with a sinus infection. I realized that I had, on-accidentally-purpose, edged God and other people out of my life. Unfortunately in America, edging people out is easy. American culture is founded upon the idea that work is good, and Hard Work is Holy. The hustle is our nation’s real pledge of allegiance. I found it easy to hand out the excuse that “I’m working, sorry, can’t talk now” or “Busy at work, I probably won’t be able to make the baptism”.
People don’t really push back against that.
But the truth is over-work is just as harmful as other drugs. It’s symptoms are less clear because it’s benefits are so apparent. Bigger bank accounts seem to outweigh empty relationships in the short-term. And fancy titles and promotions seem so much more tangible than time spent with people you care about. For these reasons, over-work can be insidious.
The episode with the yard trimmings made me realize that the same way limbs died when they were cut off from the roots that fed them, I was letting certain parts of myself and certain relationships die by scheduling myself into the ground.
Soon afterward, I made the decision to reconnect with the source that feeds me (God) and make sure that I was investing in other people and the relationships that feed me.
Life is short. Work can’t be priority #1.
Here’s to better balance.
Fly or Fall