“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” ~Confucius
Perseverance must begin somewhere…in a cold and dark room in the very early morning in the dead of winter. It is sharp with a hard edge, tempered by a million stings. Perseverance is tired but hears the shrill of the alarm in that damn biting cold and gets up anyway.
Perseverance doesn’t think. It doesn’t moan or complain. It just acts. It never questions, it does….and never under any excuses does it ever make excuses. It is strong, steadfast and true. It is a port in the storm and it can weather it all, from wind to rain and sleet and snow. Perseverance can outlast any hurricane.
Perseverance is not easy. It is hard-fought and not easily won. It comes in fits and starts and twists and turns. At times it flows like the mighty Mississippi, at other times it drips and drips like a leaky tap. Sometimes it doesn’t come at all. It is when we feel low, when we are alone in the pitch black darkness…we shout and plead and scream “please help me!” and our pleas fall on deaf ears, no one comes to help and our despair only grows. It as if we are at the end of a slippery rope, our hands bleed trying to hold on, we think we cannot hold on but somehow from seemingly nowhere we find the strength to hold on….
Perseverance is a broken foot that walks a million miles…it is a voice that sings a million songs. Perseverance is a heart that loves a million times over and is always ready to love once again.
You can fall a million times, a billion…Perseverance will get you back up…it always does and always will. Cling on to this miracle. Hold it in your hand and never let go and it will never let go of you…
There he is again, my neighbor. The one I call “The Poisoner” and he is living up to his name. It is a sight that invades my vision 4 or 5 times a year; a big guy with a large canister spraying poison like a madman all over his yard.
Sometimes it’s the weeds in the lawn, other times it’s the poor green growth that dares to show itself between the cracks in the sidewalk. On a few occasions when he really gets going , he sprays the entire parameter of his house. He wears no mask, no gloves, just him and the Roundup.
When he is finished, nothing is left alive. Except his poor lawn which is a sickly palish green despite the many hours he spends on it. He is a warrior of sorts; it is him against nature. I think he’s fighting an expensive and time-consuming battle that we all pay for in the end.
Whenever I see him with his spray can, I try not to become angry. It used to make my blood boil; to watch him spray his poison like there’s no tomorrow while I’m digging up dandelions by hand. As the years have passed and my work has gotten easier due to the many organic gardening techniques I have learned and implemented, his work has not diminished…it has seemed to only increase.
While I enjoy a healthy green lawn with a myriad of various flowers surrounding; a yard that is truly bursting with life. He lives in a dead zone. It must be frustrating to him. He must notice during the summer while he waters his lawn every single day, I water mine once a week yet mine is still green and his has brown patches.
I suppose I could let him in on my “secrets” but they aren’t really secret. I learned about these techniques from books I found at our local library which is literally just steps from our houses. I suppose I am shy and I hate to admit that although I have talked to his wife, I haven’t spent much time conversing with him. He seems to me somewhat hostile and the glares he gives me may just be in my imagination. Frankly, I am hesitant to go over there and point out to him that what he’s doing is all wrong. People don’t like that. So call me chicken but whenever he gets to spraying his poison, I just get out of his way.
I thought in my naivety that he might learn from mine and other neighbor’s examples on how one can have a lovely yard without the use of such harmful chemicals but alas he has not.
I know he isn’t the only one who resorts to such methods. In the United States alone 80 million pounds of chemical pesticides were used on residential lawns last year. A staggering number to say the least.
Toxins from pesticides can remain in the body and build up in the liver. Even at what is considered “safe” levels, a person’s reactions can be mild to severe. High levels of exposure can be fatal. Some people are seemingly unaffected or mildly affected, while others become severely ill from similar levels of exposure. Some possible reactions include: Fatigue, Skin Irritations, Nausea, Vomiting, Breathing Problems, Brain Disorders, Blood Disorders, Liver & Kidney Damage, Reproductive Damage and (gasp) Cancer.
Whether or not a person uses these chemicals themselves these toxins find their way to us by seeping into the groundwater and entering the environment where they damage and kill precious wildlife, toxic indeed!
“Contaminated groundwater can affect the quality of drinking and other types of water supplies when it reaches the surface. Contaminated groundwater can affect the health of animals and humans when they drink or bathe in water contaminated by the groundwater or when they eat organisms that have themselves been affected by groundwater contamination.”
In recent studies of major rivers and streams, one or more pesticides were detected more than 90% of the time in water, in more than 80% of fish sampled, and in 33% of major aquifers (Gilliom, Robert).
Pesticides are one of the 15 leading causes of impairment for streams included on States’ Clean Water Act section 303(d) lists of impaired waters.
I can’t see how some would think a substance that kills something would NOT be harmful. I know it is a lot of work keeping a lush weed-free lawn. Many people would say it is not worth the trouble and definitely not worth the resources. I have read about people getting rid of their lawn entirely and planting a vegetable garden. I can see the merit of that. Perhaps I may try that in the future….who knows? But today this is not what I am attempting to address.
So besides digging up the lawn entirely which I am truly tempted to do…how does one have a beautiful lawn without resorting to chemicals?
I do admit that if one wants to go totally organic, which I will be getting to in the next paragraph, one will probably have to put up with a few weeds which aren’t so bad in reality. Many weed seeds provide food for birds. Weeds are a normal part of most lawns. When there are some types of weeds in the lawn such as white clover and bird’s foot trefoil, these weeds provide a source of nutrients for the soil and later for the grass itself. A good first step is identifying what weeds you do have and determining if they are annuals, perennials or biennial. This helps you find out the correct method for controlling them. You can find some great information at WWW.msuturfweeds.net.
Annual weeds will generate from seeds and will grow to produce flowers that in turn produce more seeds. Remove them before the seed heads form and you will cut their life short. Biennials have a two-year life span, as with annuals. The trick is to get to them before they go to seed. Remove the seed head. This will do much to reduce the amount of weeds in your lawn overall.
Perennials are different. These weeds also spread by seed but they have nasty runners that spread under the soil. These runners produce rhizomes which are stems that grow horizontally underground and unbeknownst to you will survive the winter. These must be totally dug out of the lawn, when you do this some may come back. But don’t despair.
Weeds indicate the conditions of the soil. Certain weeds indicate certain problems and if you work to amend the soil this may help. For instance, if you have a problem with dandelions this could indicate that your lawn has an overabundance of nitrogen and on the other hand if you have too much clover in your lawn this could indicate not enough nitrogen. Nature is always in a delicate balance and problems occur when that balance is out of whack.
Monocultures are not natural and lawns aren’t really natural. They are just another symptom of the man over nature thing; something we humans have a problem with. I don’t want to sound like a broken record but the health and wellbeing of the natural world relies on a delicate balance and when that balance is thrown off problems will and do occur.
W A T E R
“Water is the driving force of all nature.”
Leonardo da Vinci
Water is essential to all life and a healthy lawn does need it especially in the summer. So how does one keep a green and lush lawn during those hot summer days?
Timing is important, Water your lawn during the early morning hours; the best time is between midnight and 9 am. This is giving the water a chance to enter the soil before it is exported by the hot summer sun. Watering in the evening causes the moisture to remain for too long in which there is a danger of fungus developing.
In general the optimal amount of water that a healthy lawn needs is only one inch per week. Of course some lawns have different needs. Some have more shade than others and it depends on climate as well. Be sure to leave your lawn a little on the long side as the longer blades help provide shade and aids in retaining moisture in the soil underneath. In addition, if you mow your lawn frequently it taxes the grass and it must work harder to regrow the top portion.
Of course you may if you choose to have your lawn go dormant in the summer; letting it turn brown. It may not look very good but dormancy is nature’s way of dealing with drought and your lawn will bounce back in no time once the rains return.
The subject of organics and pesticides is vast. I am only covering a small part of this broad and expansive topic. Organic gardening relies heavily on soil health and the organisms living in the soil. This also depends on the elements present in the soil and how we can give back those nutrients which green growth thrives on. In future articles I will be covering that very important subject, but for now I will impart just one little tidbit on the matter…
Please try to be natural in the care of your yard and garden. Natural is not perfection. Nature is wild and random. It is what we came from and it is what is meant to be. We humans must stop trying to change this world too much. Mother Nature is turning on us, the very beings she created because we are destroying her.
The problem is huge and at times overwhelming but together step by step, we can save this planet!
“The Earth we abuse and the living things we kill, will in the end, take their revenge; for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future.”
Songbirds sing a song tinged with sweet hope bidding a farewell to the dark of yesterday’s night. The sun has not yet risen but they know it will, as do I. The clouds are strewn in patches across the sky. The sky is dark blue interlaced with an even deeper indigo that outline the tall buildings which are spotted with light. It seems every third window is lit with a warm and welcoming light. Each one reminds me there is a devoted soul inside who is engaged in some early morning business. I hope they will stop if only for a moment to watch the sun rise…and rise it will, just as it always does. There is a certain comfort in that. A certain knowingness that no matter how life changes there will always be some things we can depend on.
I hear the train in the distance just as I always do. It’s arrival is marked with a melancholic anticipation. The bike riders show up at the last-minute, their blinking helmet lights announcing their arrival. It is always this way. I sip the last of my hot tea and steady myself before we board the train. It is already half filled with early morning commuters. We are all silent. There are no smiles, no revelry. Some stare out the windows, some read paperbacks and a few others steadily tap away on laptops. Many start to drift off and some are asleep as we make our way into the long dark tunnel that starts my morning journey.
I take out my little blue notebook and start to scribble, recording my thoughts and dreams and hopes and schemes. I stretch my mind and explore my imagination searching for something profound or funny, but today I find nothing. …just the remnant of a song I heard earlier and the lingering doubts I sometimes feel about myself. Writing eases the lonely hours, this act keeps me from feeling so alone. It will be this very thing that will save me…someday…this I must believe.
The sun rises as we make our way from station to station. Yes It did come, this glorious sun! This sun we knew would come. I think of the songbirds back at the station I left far behind and I think of what awaits me at my stop where I will get off. I smile a little private smile knowing that someday this will be all worthwhile as long as I can just take it day by day…
There are people who love to complain. These people find the worst in everything. To them the glass is not half empty, it’s completely empty. I’m sure you’ve met a few of these bewildered ones in your travels through life. It can be difficult to be in a sunny mood around them. It’s as if they are standing under a perpetual rain cloud and being in close contact with them is like being drenched in a deluge. It’s no surprise these naysayers are making themselves unhealthy. Negative thinking causes changes in neurotransmitters in the brain and impacts heart health, the immune system and digestion, as well as a person’s overall risk of mortality.
Its dangerous and frankly damn unpleasant to be around such people. They are toxic and the poison they spread is just that…poison.
“We’re in the money, the skies are sunny; old man depression, you are through, you done us wrong!” ~Al Dubin
On the other hand there are a precious few, the ones who are the polar opposite of those poor negative souls. These wonderful ones see each day as a brand new start and every struggle as an opportunity. These people see that same glass as completely full and these people are happy to share the contents.
These are a rare breed indeed, they spread their magic wherever they go and to be in their presence is to be walking on sunshine. I don’t have to tell you the world need more of these shining stars. They light our way, give hope and inspire us to do better, be better. They encourage us to shine just as brightly as they do. Think of them as true miracleworkers and unlike the empty glass rain cloud people, these sunny supernovas are healthier and live longer and they like their counterparts spread their attitude to whomever they come in contact with. These people increase the health and well-being of those around them because positive thoughts and happiness is good for your health. Think of positivity as an immunization shot against poor health. Optimistic people have lower levels of depression, a greater resistance to illnesses; from the common cold to cardiovascular diseases and even cancer. Positivity gives one better coping skills during the inevitable times of stress and hardships that come our way now and then. Positivity increases our lifespan on the whole and life, simply put, is better.
It is with these thoughts in mind that I set out today, vowing to become more like a sunny bright spot instead of a torrential rain cloud, not just for me but for everyone else who crosses my path….and my challenge to you my friends (you knew I was heading for this didn’t you?) is to not only embrace this sunny philosophy, as you probably doanyway, but to fill the glasses of those who are on perpetual empty. Although they don’t know it, they need this and we as a society desperately do. Just imagine if this sort of thing would catch on…positivity is catchy…it’s downright infectious and it feels oh so good!
My cup runneth over…wishing you a splendid day from the sunny side of the street…
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
“The way to know life is to love many things.” ~Vincent Van Gogh
To say this man was misunderstood is an understatement. To say there were probably many reasons for that, again, is an understatement. To associate this great artist with the phenomena of color is quite obvious. Vincent lived and breathed color and he is this month’s colorful person.
Vincent Van Gogh, a man never appreciated in his lifetime is one of the most well-known artists today. His work has inspired many and his story is certainly sad and compelling. He was one of history’s tragic figures. He gave so much and got so little in return. I must admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for this man, this person who saw beyond reality, who shared his profound soul with his beautiful art and lost his mind in the process.
“I wish they would only take me as I am.” Vincent Van Gogh
In essence he was lonely. To him probably the loneliest person in the world. I can certainly identify with the feeling. Vincent was misunderstood and alone in an unforgiving and harsh world. I can understand being totally consumed and compelled by one’s art to devote oneself so fully to it….only to be ignored. Vincent wanted to share his beauty with the world and in his lifetime the only person who truly cared about him was his brother Theo. It was Theo who supported Vincent monetarily and enabled Vincent to keep painting.
Ever since I first beheld a Van Gogh I have been entranced with these genuine masterpieces. His paintings embrace the soul of color. They inspire me and I cannot get enough of their imperfect beauty.
Vincent Van Gogh made the world a better place, a lovelier place. Perhaps it was his suffering which enhanced his vision. His devotion to his craft was more than apparent in his work.
It is through this story of Vincent Van Gogh that has allowed me to realise just how fleeting life can be and how beauty and talent can endure beyond the life of the artist. It is due to his story, this wild man of color that I have learned not to be so judgemental. Who knows what hidden talent and beauty lies behind the eyes of any random stranger I may encounter. Everyone has something wonderful about them. It is the norms of society that at times does not fully appreciate this, but I try to. For Vincent’s sake and for mine.
“One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.” ~Vincent Van Gogh
We are taught by this culture to want and want it now and no matter what we get, we are never satisfied. Our economy is built on our rampant consumption of everything; this intense overpowering feeling to want it all, to have it all.
And all this having and wanting leads to high expectations that for most of us are never fulfilled. It’s as if our society sets us up for disappointment.
There are certain ideals set before us, by media, by government, by our peers and by society in general. We are expected to live up to these impossibly high and unrealistic standards. If we do not we are deemed a failure. I think much of these expectations are top-heavy and backward. Much emphasis is placed on high status careers and wealth. Wealth that is quickly spent on expensive items as fancy cars, houses that are much too large, expensive and exotic vacations and trendy gadgets. I marvel at the lines people are willing to wait in to pay exorbitantly high prices just to get themselves the newest “I” somethings. We are expected not only to keep up with the “Joneses” but to outdo the “Joneses” at every twist and turn and then rub their noses in it. People are expected to lead these “full” lives with as many over the top experiences one can muster. We are also expected to remain forever and impossibly young in this culture while the natural process of aging is frowned upon and is seen a detriment.
Shallow untalented celebrities are held up as an ideal to aspire to. The news of their lives are featured as the top stories of the day. We place these people on high pedestals and then watch with relish as they crash and burn all in front of the unblinking eye of the media.
Our young people have no other role models nothing to aspire to except more of this flashy shallowness. The family unit is deteriorating and our common sense of home and well-being is being put through the shredder. It is no wonder that many are depressed and suffer from mental illnesses and addictions.
As a society we are searching for something. A something we know we lack and we pretend we haven’t a clue about what or where it is. We are losing ourselves and what makes us great.
Those ideas and ideals, those which helped us become who we were in a golden age that now seems so distant. Those ideals of family and hard work and patience. Of perseverance, wisdom and respect. The importance of generosity and understanding, kindness and love. These are the ideals we should aspire to. These are the values that are truly valuable.
I don’t have to tell anyone this. We all know this. In the back of our minds, in our hearts and souls, I just think we need to be reminded once in a while…
…and while I stand on this soapbox, shouting to whoever will hear me…I realise that I am for the most part, preaching to the converted. We are an enlightened bunch who swim in the deepest end of the pool, we in this community of bloggers…but I bet we know others who may not swim in such deep waters. It is up to us to inspire those who may need a little inspiring and a bit of encouragement now and then. Perhaps lead by example and do some preaching ourselves.
We are a part of a society at large and although we may not participate fully in this consumermania and celebrity obsession we do have an influence over those who do.
It is up to those who are enlightened to help light the way for the rest of us.
“It isn’t by getting out of the world that we become enlightened, but by getting into the world…by getting so tuned in that we can ride the waves of our existence and never get tossed because we become the waves.”
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
The best and the worst of us are inside us all. Everyone is represented. Every thought or idea. Every dream and every nightmare belongs to us as a whole. From the roar of the mighty tyrant to the whispering cries of the small and the innocent. That is us. This is we, this restless sea called humanity. Soft as a pillow on which to lie your weary head or as hard as a rock to bash your brains in. Humanity is kindness and love. Humankind forgives and understands. Humans are also selfish and petty, cruel and vindictive. We have it in our capacity to kill; destroy which we hate or do not understand…even ourselves. This is what we do. We also have within ourselves great nobility and courage. We have greatness and potential. We not only destroy, we can save and reserrect.
The darkest unspeakable horrors lie in our common past. We are animals after all and it is not so long ago that we needed that harshness, that willingness to embrace that dark part of us to survive. It is the nature of the beast after all and no matter how we try to hide it at times we are the beast. .
The worst and the best of us are inside all of us. Perhaps it is what it means to be human is to have this conflicting nature. Perhaps this is what gives us our drive. Think of us as you may, we are the dominant ones on this planet and it was our primitive ancestors who insured this legacy for us, we the so-called civilized inheritors.
We are the beast. The animal who watched wide-eyed the downfall of Earth’s last dominant species; the dinosaurs. Our rodent ancestors, the first of the mammals inherited purely by luck and then by sheer determination this fantastic planet. It was our predecessors who clung to the safety of trees. It was our for-bearers who climbed out of the safety of those trees and learned how to make and use tools. We learned to communicate and cooperate. It was this which helped us grow and expand, this banding together. This social bonding survives deep in our nature to this day.
Where did we go wrong? Did we grow too smart for our own good? Did we grow too fast? Did we forget that pure intelligence without wisdom is a recipe for disaster?Where we too successful? Will that killer instinct turn on us in the end and destroy us. We who shaped this planet into our own image.Or will that instinct help us survive and thrive?
Is our journey over? Are we stuck on a plateau? Have we reached a golden age, never to return? Does evolution ever stop or are we still evolving?
I think we can, I think we are. I believe we have it within ourselves to grow into something amazing and quite wonderful. Some people believe we are at the end of our journey. They believe we have no business having traveled as far as we have. But we are not finished, we have only just begun. We are a child that has outgrown our playground. We are a child who is frightened to grow up. Growing is painful, growing hurts, but growing is what we must do….and it is within us all. It is up to all of us; every single drop in this sea of humanity.
We are all needed, but it starts with you…it starts with me. Together we can save ourselves and grow and change and become something we cannot fathom now, but something wonderful nonetheless.
It takes an act of kindness, multiplied by seven billion. It takes someone to stop keeping score. It takes a billion “I’m sorry’s” and “I care” and dammit, ” We can do this together!” It takes a trillion turns of the other cheek . It takes a light to shine the way and it takes seven billion to follow that light.
It will take all of humanity to save humanity.
We are frail, we are weak, we are human and together we are more powerful than any one of us can realize.