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Zen and the Transcendent Art Of Mowing Grass

Zen and the Transcendent Art Of Mowing Grass

As a youth, I hated to mow so much that one day I left our push-mower in the yard to rust and became an expatriated Texas writer. My first story was about an alien being who, in the end, turned out to be a lawnmower.

By the time I came home again, I had spent so much time in the East that my Texas friends expected me to move into a highrise in downtown Dallas. But instead we settled sixteen miles to the south, in Cedar Hill. We surprised everyone by buying a place with an eight-acre yard.

It was during the summer, and I had to start mowing immediately. “You just stay inside where it’s cool,” I told Norma, who is afraid of grass. “I’ll take care of the yard.” As I spoke, I was gazing out at more grass and weeds than I’d ever seen in my life, except at a cemetery.

Now whenever anybody from Dallas comes out to see our spread for the first time, they remark on the seclusion, the spaciousness, the scenic beauty. Then they ask uneasily, “Do you MOW all this?” People don’t like it when I say yes. They don’t understand it. Old friends say I’ve changed, implying for the worst.

But there is a difference between what I do today and the mowing of my youth. Mowing a little patch of front yard is typical outdoor city work: boring, undistinguished, pitiable, drone-like activity. But getting astride a John Deere tractor and spending twenty hours in two days tackling tough thistles, high Johnson grass, giant sticker weeds, and creeper so tough it copulates with barbed wire is the kind of intense activity that, if you survive it, eventually transcends itself. Like Zen or long-distance running, it becomes a path to wisdom.

I’ve been at it three years now, and it’s no accident that I don’t write as I used to. All I really want to write about is mowing-and then for only an hour or so at a time between whole days on my tractor. The fact is, mowing and writing fill the same needs, only mowing does it better.

Mowing eight acres every week would drive some kinds of people mad, but it has served to make me feel in harmony with the flux of the heaving earth as it hurtles through time.

My Passion for Making Collages

I have never felt like I have been a part of any sort of social order, be it a school, church, neighborhood, club, a group of friends, or even my own family. Perhaps this is because, not only am I anti-social, but I am a collector: a collector of ideas and passions. My collection is ever changing and ever contradictory. My interests are to varying and eclectic to fit into one synonymous, orderly whole that can slide nicely into one clique’s stereotype. I am always adding to my collection and always pealing and shedding overused/underused or unneeded skins. My collection is and never will be complete; for I have yet to even give it a name and a central theme is definitely lacking. I cannot even begin to recognize any synergism that may be possibly approaching. I cannot even recognize any in this essay. That is what I get for making one of my greater passions, writing, vestigial for so long and trading it in for a drawn out passion of making collages.

This “passion” began about the same time that I started high school. On weekends I would visit my dad, and in my search for acceptance through fashion, I found amusement only in visiting the fantasy worlds of magazines… for my Dad’s farming abode was oh so unglamorous. As I amassed a collection of these magazines, I began cutting pictures out of them and taping them to my bedroom wall. It was not long before I had created my first collage: it was my wallpaper.

Eventually, as the year passed, I grew tired of the dark and overbearing distraction on my wall. I pealed off the clippings, exposing the fresh nudity of my wall’s long forgotten whiteness. Unfortunately as I did this, strands of paint were ripped away along with the tape, leaving this whiteness a …

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…thing when I am feeling stale and like my existence is unfruitful. It makes me feel like I have accomplished something worth while. I feel a sense of relief afterwards, for it drains me of any thoughts that I may be having as I search and make tedious incisions and arrange. I look on my wall at what I have done and I can visit myself feeling amorous or tense or full of rage… and I realize that my primordial soap of emotions was not churned in vain.

Everyone has moments of insecurity, when they question their place within the collaborative whole that is a society and have moments of uncreativity. Humans are social creatures weather they like it or not and even if they feel awkward as hell, if they keep browsing, sampling, and collecting life’s varying images, eventually they will find the ones that compliment who they are and find synergism.

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