Early yesterday evening I had just begun mowing the front lawn when I stopped to visit with a neighbor. When I resumed a few minutes later, the lawnmower started as usual but then quickly died. I tried again but the result was the same. The electric lawnmower is my pride and joy (see The Zen of mowing…) and it had never given me serious trouble before now so I was stumped. But not really. Deep down I knew the event that had put things in motion. A couple of weeks earlier, I had mowed the grass when it was exceptionally tall and wet. The mower had kept stalling out but I had persisted. I had finished my task but the machine hadn’t felt right since then.
I knew what I had to do. It was time to flip the mower over onto its side so that I could inspect what was going on underneath. My hypothesis was that there would be an accumulation of grass clippings lodged there which was preventing the blade from spinning efficiently and thus causing the mower to overheat. What I found was much worse – a beyond astonishing amount of muck. (I’m not sure I even knew what muck was until I saw this substance!) I was chagrined…clearly I had not been maintaining the mower the way I was meant to. The truth was that I had never, not once in two years, turned the mower over before yesterday – no inspections, no routine cleanings. I had deliberately turned a blind eye towards what I couldn’t see. As long as it kept running, I kept my eyes straight ahead and kept pushing.
Which got me thinking. Have I been doing the same thing with my body? Are there ways that I’m currently not taking care of myself to the best of my ability? Am I eating too much of the wrong foods and not enough of the right foods? Are there supplements that I should be taking? Should I be fasting? Should I be seeing an acupuncturist regularly? The similarity between the lawnmower and myself seemed painfully obvious. Because suddenly, I find I have a laundry-list of ailments – a torn rotator cuff, out-of-the-blue hip issues, and a painful big toe; also a noticeable decline in flexibility and energy level; in general, out of sorts and not quite right.
Yesterday at the beginning of yoga class, the instructor asked us to silently set an intention for that day’s practice. I chose “acceptance” because during previous classes I’d spent the entire time being pissed off at the postures I couldn’t hold and at the various body parts which were hurting. It was my first tentative step towards moving beyond anger and denial.
Although acceptance is important, I now have a sense of urgency about pursuing this new line of thinking. Are there preventable and reversible things going on inside me right now about which I’m unaware….things that are acting like muck and slowing me down? Things which will ultimately reach a critical mass and cause a major malfunction? And, if so, how should I begin the demucking process?
The story of my lawnmower has a happy ending. I did get rid of the muck (well, most of it). When I tentatively tried restarting the mower, much to my surprise and delight, it started right up and felt better to operate than it had in a long while.