Choose your suffering

I’ll admit it: there are days (many, in fact) when I am tempted to just bulldoze our five acres and start over from scratch. A clean slate. Strip the turf grass. Burn the weeds. Start from bare earth. (The trees can stay, though, except for the ones that are obviously dead.)

But it wouldn’t matter. Once we start growing things again, the weeds will come back. They always do. Especially the thistle, bindweed, poison ivy, and the aptly named devil’s beggarticks — I’ve been doing battle with most of these for a while now. If I want to keep some of our property wild and natural, this is the price I must pay.

I started reading Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, which is all about adopting a mindset to stop obsessing over the inevitable imperfections in life (in this case, the slow, steady takeover of things I don’t want growing in our yard). You need to choose your suffering … in other words, decide what is worth stressing about instead of wasting your energy stressing over things that are inevitable or unimportant in the grand scheme of life.

So, let’s start with thistle. We have thick patches of it all over our yard. I will never be able to get rid of it, but I’ve already spent countless hours trying to pull it from the root. I’ve cursed at it, raged at it. And it continues to thrive. So I should just accept that it’s here to stay and make my peace with it. The pollinators love it, and the flowers are pretty. (I might try pressing it, actually. I have experimented with flower pressing before.)

On the flip side, poison ivy is unacceptable, and IT MUST DIE. Bindweed, too, because it keeps popping up and wrapping its evil tendrils around the plants that I am actually trying to grow.

And devil’s beggarticks? Harmless enough, so probably not worth stressing about. (Though it keeps popping up EVERYWHERE.)

This house, this land… this is worth suffering for. This is worth the sweat equity we’re putting into it. I can start to envision the changes I want to make to the landscape to improve it, and I know it’s going to be expensive and labor-intensive and stressful. But I can almost feel the immense satisfaction we’ll have once things start taking shape the way we want them to.

Besides, this land has given us so much already. Peace, quiet, the ability to commune with nature, the start of what will be a bumper crop of potatoes …

Not to mention, I seem to discover something new and interesting here every day. And I’m learning so much. Not just about how to work the land, but also about the flora and fauna. I’ve never been more interested in identifying plants and trees.

When we decided to buy this house, we chose suffering. We knew it would be a lot of work. A lot of frustration. A lot of stress. We knew it would be an endless loop of mowing and weeding and trimming and sawing and, and, and…

But we knew it was worth it.

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