Tuesday, 15 April 2014

What I Love About Weeds

Nature often talks to me in unexpected ways. Yesterday morning I went running and ended up on a road where earth has been removed to make way for the road going around the hill. The rock wall that remains as a result would have looked naked if it were not covered with creepers. This served as a beautiful reminder that nature always finds a way. In the environment of civilisation where I often feel oppressed and yearn for connection with nature, I’m beginning to realise that living in harmony with other living entities should not be that difficult to achieve. Amid the global panic about the destruction to the planet that humans cause, I’m dealing with my own lack of trust that I can make a living outside of systems governed by power.
 
Nature Taking Over
Through my current studies of mythology, slavery, and ancient civilisations I am forming the idea that systems of control and abuse of power are fuelled by the need to possess life and enabled by the artificial constructs that make this illusion possible. From my perspective, a lot of the social and economic problems in the world can more or less be linked with possession and control of life. The destruction caused to the planet makes me feel anxious, but the creeper covering the rock wall reminded me that life always finds a path to continue. It is powerful precisely because it yields: if life is killed it shows up somewhere else. Ultimately domination cannot have the final say because the life force that brought us here is stronger.

The creeper reminded me about a conversation I had with someone about fallen sports heroes. I expressed my surprise that anyone would want to cheat if they know that they did not truly win. My friend told me about the weekend he spent weeding in the garden. He compared the persistent appearance of weeds to the propensity to entertain dubious morals. He said that like weeds, unwanted thoughts can grow in the mind. If they are not confronted and removed, they lead us to justify our actions when we know they are not right. We talked about the generation before us and how easily people who generally had an interest in living justly accepted apartheid South Africa. When we asked older people whether they had felt any sense of injustice with the segregation of black and white, they told us that authorities used the Bible to justify apartheid and they did not dare question. To my friend, weeds represented those aspects of ourselves that we sweep under the carpet. From that point of view, the tendency to delude ourselves about our own infallibility had to be confronted head on and removed before it could corrupt us.


Even from his symbolic perspective weeds are a gift. The dark corners of our mind that we would rather not confront are more health-giving when they see the light of day. If the weeds of our psyche make us feel uncomfortable, they usually have a message for us. Rather than killing them or throwing them out, I think we could realise that they are a form of life giving us a message. Life is on our side and even through our darkness we are presented with opportunities to grow and become whole.