On Politics and Property Lines

If you have to mow your lawn, there are some unwritten rules by which you must abide. I’ve learned this over the course of the last month or so–since I started mowing my own lawn (not a euphemism).

  • People with fences are apparently responsible for mowing one pass beyond the confines of said fences. I mean, it’s probably better that I don’t use a weedwhacker along my neighbor’s fence… because I don’t think the good doctor would enjoy my beating the hell out of his pristine wooden lawn enclosure. Where’s the actual property line? No idea. Does it matter? Probably not.
  • Speaking of the doctor, he’s better dressed while mowing his lawn than most other people are at a wedding. Or a funeral. Or prom. Do I need to up my yard work wardrobe game?! Is there a store for this?
  • Some people think it’s appropriate to just sit and watch other people mow their lawns–and by “some people,” I mean all my neighbors, and by “other people,” I mean me. Is that weird? I’m not sure, but I def don’t sit out and watch the guy two houses down while he’s sweating it out pushing his John Deere on a Saturday. (And to be clear, I don’t watch the doctor, either. I’m just saying.)
  • Um… women don’t mow lawns, which either means a) I’m a dude, or b) I shouldn’t be doing this.
  • Regarding the above point, I’m totes not a dude.

A weird thing happened when I mowed my lawn for the first time last month. There was something cathartic about moving that lawn mower (wtf–why does it weigh 800 lbs?!) in tight little rows. I was making my lawn pretty. I was doing something. As I pushed a loud machine that lobbed off the top 1/4″ of the blades of grass that comprise my lawn while listening to music that was nowhere near loud enough to drown out the drone of the mower, it all made sense.

I spend all day clicking a mouse and moving things around on a screen and reading stuff people send to me and printing papers and typing things and walking through the same halls I do every day. When I leave after eight (okay, let’s be honest, ten) hours at the end of the day, I’ve returned everything to zero. My desk is clean, the chaos calmed, and the office is back at baseline, ready to tackle the next day.

However, after I mow my lawn, there’s sweat on my forehead, there are what look like the beginnings of blisters on my hands, and I want to sit down, have a beer, and take in what I’ve done. I’ve accomplished something. I’ve completed a task. It looks nice. I did it.

I’ve never really appreciated manual labor for what it is:  a physical manifestation of accomplishment.

I could click my mouse all day (again, not a euphemism), but there’s no satisfaction in a visible, measurable, meaningful way.

There’s beauty in a freshly-cut lawn. There’s a deep and profound pride when the job is done. I get it now. I hunger for it. I want to do.


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