by Dave Markwell 
The other day I picked the weeds which live in the sidewalk in front of my wife’s office. I hate these weeds. I hate the weeds that clutter the sidewalk more than I hate picking them. And I don’t like picking them much at all.
Picking weeds from the sidewalk cracks is a crappy job, however the results are satisfying. At least, they are to me. I have what some might classify as a “perversion” about untidy weed growth. I am largely untidy throughout much of my life, but I cannot tolerate weeds in a flower bed or an untrimmed lawn. It makes me uneasy and slightly annoyed in a place that is rarely revealed. It is my place and my perversion and since I’m the one doing the weed-picking anyway, it shouldn’t matter too much to anyone else that it exists at all.
Landscaping is my therapy. My most important and profound thoughts sprout while out of doors, in motion. I have solved a lot of problems walking behind a lawnmower. I think more clearly with spongy earplugs muffling the noise of my world. I meditate and ponder and mull over my life and what it all means.
My most significant insight occurred several years ago when I realized that I will never really KNOW anything. I was weed-wacking at the time. My understanding involved understanding that I will never understand. And that answers don’t exist that are as sharp and clean as a freshly edged curb line. I found, and still find, this idea liberating. It frees me from the disappointment of my ignorance about things. As more days pass on my life’s calendar, I don’t really think any one else knows that much either. Lots of people try to fake it and speak with great certainty about stuff they don’t know a damn thing about. I find this humorous and unfortunate in the same breath.
“If people ever find out what’s really important in life, there will be a shortage of fishing poles.” Sign in a Northwoods bait shop.
This is as true a truth I have ever witnessed and I will take it as perhaps the only one I will ever see. Life confounds and contradicts and puzzles. Many truths are true, even contrary ones, but I claim this one for myself.
During my weed-picking meditation, I considered whether maybe some parallels could be drawn between the weeds which grow in the sidewalk and other things in life. We see them without the clear recognition that we don’t like them, but we don’t like them anyway. They trouble us in ways and in places that we feel more than we see. They burden us and undermine us and are insidious little creatures of discomfort. This sense is intuitive and sometimes illogical, but also true, and can serve to release us if we acknowledge it and act.
All matters may not be as simple as picking weeds from the sidewalk, but most are not that complicated either. We know them as we feel them. Seeing them is the trick, but picking the little devils is where the magic is made.
“Everything has a time and we have time for everything” –Mosca, borderline crazy man in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, 1994.
This is a second truth I just remembered. It’s now time to finish picking some weeds…or begin…
[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here . Or work out with him at his new exercise company Waterland CrossFit !]