I mowed the lawn yesterday for the first time this year. It was just getting too long to let it go, even though that’s just what I wanted to do. I wanted to let it go because it isn’t time to mow the lawn yet—not here, not in Michigan. I usually don’t mow for the first time until late April, early May. I was a little grumpy about the whole idea of mowing the lawn before it was “time to mow”. But I dragged myself out to the garage, took the snow-blower out to the shed and replaced it with the lawnmower. The whole time reminding myself that this is a good thing—it means summer’s coming, but that didn’t cheer me up much. The mild weather only held a promise of what’s to come.
The gas can was empty. Of course. It isn’t time to mow the lawn yet so I hadn’t bought any gas. I grabbed the gas can then trudged and grumbled the four blocks to the nearest gas station for a gallon of gas. I filled the tank on the mower and while I was screwing the gas cap back on, it cracked in half. I have never seen anything like it, just split in two. I called it names and added in a few special curses to round things off then headed for the computer.
The mower is a national brand, so I went to the company website and found the gas cap I needed, I added in an air filter (I’m not going to make the trip for a gas cap alone, I thought) for good measure, made my list of part numbers and headed out. Still trudging and grumbling.
Unshaven, without a shower—I’m not going to get cleaned up to mow the lawn, clean up is for after mowing—I brushed my teeth (I will do that much for the salesperson I run into) I drove to the store and asked for the parts I needed.
“The air filter is right over here, but we may have to order the gas cap,” said the associate (I found out he is called an associate). I grumbled that I needed the gas cap today. I had filled the tank and gathered the momentum (which was beginning to flag at this point as my mind went to ways I could cover the gas tank and wait until a cap showed up; duct tape came to mind, man’s best friend in such a case). I decided I really wanted the gas cap today. I wanted to get this mowing over with.
I pasted on my best smile, which was admittedly weak, and said, “I really need it today if there’s any way possible.”
The associate went to a lot of trouble, looking for a simple part. We did find one gas cap in stock, but neither of us could be certain it would fit my machine. The part number was wrong and they no longer sell the one I own, so we couldn’t try it on one we knew was similar. He got on the computer and chatted with another associate who gave him another part number—one different than the one I had given him—and he began looking it up. I tried to help with ways that were my own which didn’t help much but passed the time. Finally he came to a page that showed the part number of the gas cap in his hand would work. They had changed the part number and this was the replacement part after all.
I paid for the parts and headed home, feeling somewhat better that I should be able to get the lawn mowed. I had managed to be civil—even cordial, if not my cleanest—with the sales associate and he had provided me with what I needed. I would be able to get this task in my past.
As I was mowing, a thought ran through my mind. It’s a saying a friend of mine and I like to use to remind ourselves we need to be humble—and its timing was ironic. It goes like this: “You’re not going to wake up one day to headlines that say, ‘Man sobers up, mows lawn’.”
I couldn’t help but smile, and that simple smile brought me some gratitude. Although I didn’t want to be mowing the lawn so early in the year, the weather had been nice for most of March (hence the growth of said lawn) and is still pretty mild for the season. It was nearing 60 degrees as I did my chore and the sun shone bright in an azure sky. As I pushed the mower around the yard I began to notice things—the place my garden will be, the shrubs I planted last fall which are doing quite nicely—and my smile grew a little. Then something funny happened, and I mean it happened of its own accord. I didn’t make a choice to think positively or anything, but . . .
I started to notice the things that needed to be done around the yard—edging the sidewalk, taking out some older shrubs to be replaced this fall and much more, enough to be overwhelming. Instead of being bothered by this, I became grateful that I would be able to do the work. My smile grew some more and my step lightened. I emptied the grass clippings around the shrubs I planted last fall to mulch them with a quick composting material to help them grow during their first season in my yard and I looked around some more.
There is much to be done but I’m able to do it. For that alone I should be happy. I enjoy working in the yard most of the time (some things like raking leaves, I still don’t like much, maybe because it’s a sign of the coming winter, which I don’t enjoy like I did when I was a kid) and I’m still able to do all the things I want and need to do.
It’s simple stuff really, but I need to be happy, grateful even, for the things I need to do. They are the things that make up my life. If I’m not happy when I’m doing them, I’m wasting my time—and my life.