Attila the Lily

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Today I have been weeding in the garden. Again.

Well, not so much weeding as tidying away plants that have either died messily or invaded territory that did not belong to them.

So now I am sitting back, aching, listening to a squirrel scold me. My garden looks less rampant and unruly, which was my intention. It is also somehow poorer and less happily exuberant.

I have removed many, many lilies of the valley. When I was a child we had a tiny patch of lilies of the valley hiding under a small lilac. The patch never grew larger in several years but it always produced three stems of dainty flowers that I thought were magical.

So in my own garden I planted one or two lilies of the valley, hoping for perhaps a small clump, given time, and for a few of the delicate flowers with their perfume that smells of spring. They turned into Attila the Hun, attacking and colonizing almost the whole back garden. So much for dainty.

So today I attacked Attila the lily Hun. I had lots of energy because I was angry. People I care about had been ill-treated. Why does it hurt so much more when our friends are harmed than when we ourselves are harmed?

As I ripped out plant after plant, many with long underground runners attached, I was really uprooting the woman who had just hurt my friends. I know I am supposed to wish all sentient beings well, but today, how about all sentient beings minus one? Isn’t that close enough?

She is a weed in the garden of life, I huffed, yanking away. She is a dandelion in a rose bed. Except that I rather like dandelions.

My weeding out of thug plants masquerading as delicate lilies of the valley progressed rapidly. My mood and my task matched perfectly. Every plant that faced its demise in the compost pile had the face of that cruelly insensitive woman.

My desire to phone and give her a really big piece of my mind gradually faded. I can’t say that I softened completely but I became more willing to think words such a “youth and inexperience” rather than expletives.

Soon enough my body began to give signs that I had done enough weed pulling for one day. My mind was not ready to quit, though. It had more work to do. So I toiled on, rather more slowly.

My head, however, kept working at the same whirling speed until I could think words like “Out of her depth” and “Might need more support”.

I’d like to say I tipped my anger into the compost along with my lily of the valley thugs, but no. It was still there. I was still seething, but less intensely. The heat of anger had cooled a little, the turmoil had quietened. I would be able to sleep on my righteous indignation, not fire off angry phone calls and emails.

By tomorrow who knows what logic, wisdom, charitable thoughts will have surfaced and taken root in my mind. My garden has always absorbed my worst thoughts, removed some of the poison from them and left my thinking somewhere closer to my still, small centre – a little closer to where it ought to be.

My unruly, messy thinking is tamed a little. The anger that invaded has been reduced to a more manageable enemy. It no longer fills my mind like thug plants fill the garden. I’m ready to open myself to hear the scolding of the squirrel, the perfume of the alyssum, the touch of a light breeze.

My garden has started to set me to rights again. My world is moving back towards its equilibrium.

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