I discovered much to my dismay, that the best way I could weed in my garden was bare-handed.  I needed to feel the stem I was plucking, to go by feel as well as sight.

It’s also a tactile thing, connecting with your plants and deciding which do not belong there. Your selection’s destiny is to be sent to the compost heap; ashes to ashes, dirt to dirt.

In a way, I feel I almost owe it to them to connect through touch. But the other truth is that I need to make sure I am not picking one of my vegetables prematurely, which has been done all-too-often.  So I have resigned myself to the dirt that becomes firmly embedded under my fingernails, the extra time it takes to scrub-brush it out in the shower and put on a dark nail polish to cover what I can’t excise.

So many aspects of my life are the same way. I have been drawn kicking and screaming into situations that required work, heaven forbid, in order to materialize.  The task, like creating books or videos, seemed absolutely overwhelming to the point I felt my only refuge was to ignore it entirely.  But we know there are consequences to that behavior. The work would stare at me from a corner of the office until I could bear it no longer and dove in.    What has always happened, without exception, is that once I start on the dreaded task, I become engrossed and time slips away.  Before I know it I am fingernail-deep in my project.  When I surface, I wonder what I was procrastinating for. Of course many projects take a longer time than I project at the beginning, but as long as I’m connecting with the project like I do with my plants, the length of time doesn’t seem to matter.

I wish humans would have to learn lessons only once in life, get it, and move on perfectly with the knowledge.  I know I become engrossed and enthralled soon after starting a project, yet  I continue to procrastinate. I find all sorts of easier jobs that seem to have to get done, like cleaning out a closet, while the weightier task goes wanting. But once I get my fingernails dirty, I’m in it for the long haul.

Life is no grand, brisk and breezy joy ride.  We are here to learn and grow. Yes, there is joy, and it’s our task to see how we can increase that joy and moderate the lessons that are not so fun.  Learn and discard the touch life classes.  Learn and discard.

Of all the popular girls (I was not one of them) in high school, a few come to mind as the prettiest and most revered.  I remember running into one of them much later in life and she shared some of her difficulties in that school.  From my perspective she always had everything. Turns out she had all that, and never felt as popular as some of those around her believed she was. It sounded to me as if she had worthiness issues to confront, and lots of teenage angst. No life, no matter how seemingly perfect, is without its own tribulation.

Are you waiting for just the right time for something to happen? Change jobs? Start painting? Renew a relationship or start a new one?  Is there a nagging in some deep corner of your brain, telling you that the time is now, that there is no more time? That the present is all we have?

Life is messy, so get dirty. It’s no fun standing on the sidelines. Get some dirt under your fingernails.

2 Thoughts on “Dirt Under Your Fingernails”

  • Hey Soul Sister, I’m a bare-handed gardener as well! My hands and wedding ring, which I never take off, are etched from years of rooting around in the soil.

    I never put off gardening like I do the things that scare or overwhelm me…thanks Sally for the reminder to just dig in!

  • Sally,
    Wonderful blog!! Loved your stories; informative and with a sense of humor that kept me wanting more.
    I find that digging in the dirt and feeling the soil in my hands is especially nice after a spring shower. The smell chases away the winter and brings hope for a bountiful garden.

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