Blood, Sweat and Tears

Jul 27, 2015

There they were, heading out in our neighbor's field. Makes my breath constrict just to see the little pests. Invasive species. Canada thistle. Why such a strong reaction you may wonder? I invest hours and hours, days even, each summer tending to 11 acres of prairie, just to keep the beasties at bay. They prick and they are a LOT of work to manage. They spread like a nasty virus.canadathistlecombo01.jpg

Gazing upon our neighbor's land fuels my internal tirade. "Don't they realize the hours I've spent in trying to contain thistles?" "Don't they care?" "We are required by law to manage these so that they don't spread, don't they get it?" My indignant blood boils.

Speaking of blood. As I work the prairie, mosquitoes mistake me for a full course meal, not just an appetizer. Attacking, stinging, pestering – they're relentless as I work in the prairie. Thirsty critters. Pretty sure I've fed generation after generation of the Minnesota state bird.

Then there's the sweat. Ringing out your t-shirt kind of sweat as I walk the prairie in high 80 to 90 plus degrees farenheight. Sun screen seeping from the forehead into the eyes kind of sweat. Ouchy, stinky, profuse.

Ever been there? Ready to call out someone for their wrong-doing or their delinquency or what they should do. Like a well-worn path in the dirt, my rant continues, "Damn neighbors! Can't they see they need to tend to their property? Most of us have had the same "They should..." iteration going in the workplace or in our homes.

Before I decide to go work in the neighbor's field, I decide to walk through our prairie one last time to ensure I've removed all of our intruders. Ugh. There they are, a band of Canada thistles in full, fuzzy headed regalia. In our field. The field I tended to weeks ago. Canada thistles, like the ones in my neighbor's field. I missed them the first and second time around. Now I have a mess. A big mess. Tears.

This quote by Epictetus hits home, gently slapping me upside the head. "When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger."

The self-righteous voice, the commentary in my head about my faulty neighbors becomes silent. Time to tend to my own field. Yet again. When I'm tempted to look outside, to complain about the weeds in my neighbor's field, may I remember to first tend to my own.