It’s a pretty regular occurrence for me to get asked why I spend so much time in my yard and gardens. While I know some of my neighbors and friends have had a good chuckle at times surrounding my OCD with it all, the easiest answer I can give deals with what I’m not doing during all those countless hours and meticulous care I put into it all.
What I mean by that deals with addiction. While some may argue that the incredible effort I put in daily to the upkeep of my yard and gardens is an addiction in itself, I’d gladly take that addiction over all the other ones I used to engage in throughout the many days of my life in prior years.
Being that I don’t have a paying job to speak of at the present, I have plenty of free time. That often translates into something that can drive a recovering addict back into addictive behaviors that aren’t good for them. That’s why it’s often recommended to have healthy addictions or healthy outlets to channel a former addict’s energy into.
For me, instead of sitting around the house drinking, drugging, and chain-smoking cigarettes, I’m doing things like trimming, pruning, weeding, fertilizing, and mowing. Instead of looking at pornography, living promiscuously, and fantasizing about others, I’m raking, planting, mulching, mowing, and watering. And well, I’m sure you get the point.
The fact is, I put so much energy into my yard and gardens because it not only prevents me from doing any of my old addictions, it also seems to help me feel better about myself and my recovering life. Recovering addicts tend to beat themselves up and think pretty low of themselves at times, something I personally have been guilty of doing to myself throughout many of my recovering years. Thus, channeling a ton of energy into the nature around my home has had a positive effect on my self-esteem, which in turn has helped to reduce any desire to act out in some toxic addiction.
That’s why I sometimes spend entire days outside in the scorching heat while my neighbors just shake their heads and think I’m crazy. It’s why I’m outside picking up all these countless whirlybirds that fall from the maple trees multiple times a day in the spring and it’s why I do the same with the leaves that come down during the fall. It’s also why I clean my ponds regularly and constantly prune my perennials. And it’s why it takes me several hours to simply cut and edge my postage stamp of a yard. The reality is on most days during the spring, summer, and fall, you can usually drive by my home and find me somewhere outside, doing the silliest of things like hand-picking every weed that I find popping up in my yard.
I know all of this probably sounds quite obsessive to the masses, but to me, I’d gladly take my yard and garden addiction any day over any of the former addictions that used to rule my life. And of course, being constantly in the nature around my home has one more positive effect on me as well. It always helps a little to feel closer to God when doing it.
Take today for example when I was watering for several hours in the blazing heat. A young robin landed nearby and appeared as if it recently had learned how to fly. As it stood there, mere feet from me, it seemed as if it was beckoning for some of water coming out my wand. So, I held the wand over it and watched as it splashed and played and cleaned itself in the cool shower over its head. When it was done, it looked up at me almost as if saying thank you, and then flew away. I truly felt closer to God after that and had a smile on my face.
So, for all those who ever wonder why I obsess so much in my yard and gardens, even when the holidays come where I look like Clark Griswold out there setting up all my decorations, know it’s keeping me sane and sober and helping me one day at a time find a little peace and serenity and connection to God…
Peace, love, light, and joy
Andrew Arthur Dawson