Bulrushes

6.24.18

I had an uncharacteristically Biblical thought yesterday.

I’m not much of a gardener. I mostly kept up with the weeding until I saw a long, lazy, benevolent black snake in the garden. Then I screamed like a 1950s sitcom and refused to go into the yard for months; let the snake weed.

(This was an unsuccessful weeding policy, as it turns out, and the yard quickly began to assume a jungle-like air of neglect that only felt more alarmingly snaky.)

But when I discovered a (quite large) turtle in my tiny, man-made pond, I was restored to the natural world. (From this experience we see that the fear of a snake is JUST SLIGHTLY outweighed by the delight in a turtle. Mathematically, snake < turtle.)

I hired a landscaping company to create a turtle paradise; the result is so stunning that I can’t imagine Yertle isn’t blissed in his groovy bachelor pad. I rather hope he’s on TurtleMatch.com, finding himself a little honey to enjoy Eastern Slider Eden. One of the things the landscaping lady did was fill my little turtle pond with all kinds of luscious water plants. (Some of which sit on low tables made of slate on stone legs, under which GOLDFISH would be happy to hide! I’m going to buy Yertle his pets this week.)

And one of the plant varieties is a bulrush.

Bulrushes, it turns out, are lovely. They have pretty, oblate leaves, and they stand tall and wave gently in the breeze. They have pretty lavender flowers growing shyly from their stalks.

But of course the most immediately awesome thing about the bulrush is its place in literature (or history or religion, depending on your interpretation), as it was among the bulrushes that the Pharaoh’s daughter found tiny baby Moses. (I pointedly omit a wealth of commentary about family planning and societal shame and the unlikelihood of babies drifting, carefree and untethered, among tall reeds in a wetland.)

So I heart my bulrushes big-big, and occasionally look to see if any baskets have fetched up among them. Nothing so far.

But a big wind did come roaring through. It pushed over one of the cattails and one of the bulrushes, and I bravely took my bare feet to the distant side of the pond (where, one might reasonably assume, a snake could possibly be enjoying a poolside sunbath) to stand up my reclining plants.

Once I was safely back in the kitchen, I looked with satisfaction at my pond. It was perhaps the biblical nature of the bulrushes that made me think to myself, “I have restored the habitat to order; I am the god of the turtle pond.”

Any time you decide you’re a god, it’s a good opportunity to slap yourself in the face and shake that thought loose. I don’t follow a formalized religion, but I do believe in karma, and if you decide you’re the god of ANYTHING, the actual god of that thing will make a point of proving just how wrong you are.

(I follow no formalized religion, but there are gods everywhere in my world, and it’s best not to piss any of them off. Be grateful. Be humble. You never know when a deity is paying attention.)

But before I lost the image of me as a god entirely, I felt an electrical pull that meant an analogy was inbound. Annnnnnd…. It’s here! Listen:

I’m a bad gardener, but a landscaper with a green thumb and a love of growing things has put me on the path. She’s given me the bare rudiments of knowledge to be the goddess of the turtle pond.

I’ve been a poor manager of my health for my entire life. Now a fitness trainer with a knowledge of musculature and an understanding of my emotional barriers has given me the bare rudiments of knowledge to … No, too blasphemous to say I’m the goddess of my health. But really – the analogy holds true. I have the ability now to be a good steward.

This analogy is pretty sound, even without the biblical value of a garden. I have a garden; I can ignore it or I can tend it. There’s a snake in the garden – not Satan, in this case; I think my snake is sugar – but it won’t hurt me if I don’t hurt it. I just have to accept that it’s a part of my garden, and work around it.

If you don’t weed a little every day, things get away from you, and what could be magnificent instead looks like a rental property, where no one cares what happens to the shrubs or trees or – yes – bulrushes. That’s how people get to looking tatty and worn out before they need to. I was treating my body like a rental property. (Whoops – switched analogies there. Let’s try again.)

I was treating my body as if I was only going to look at it from the kitchen – but you can’t see the turtle from the kitchen, or the goldfish. You can’t see the blooms on the exotic water lily, which only blooms at twilight. (How cool is that?) You can distantly hear the frogs croaking, but you can’t get the full effect until you get out there.

A stint on the elliptical (or – help me, Rhonda – jogging a mile with Barbara) is like weeding. It’s annoying and hot and I dread it beforehand. But once it’s done, I feel better. I look better. And the bulrushes offering their surprising lavender flowers is like (and you’ll have to take my word for this, as I will NOT post a photo) the nascent little crease that is developing between my thigh and my butt. It’s not just one large slab of flaccid any more; I’m getting enough muscle definition that things are starting (just barely, but it’s a start) to look less embarrassing.

Bulrushes. There’s so much they can teach us.

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That’s a fitness blog entry of 23 paragraphs, and only the last five have anything at all to do with fitness. This seems like a LONG way around a pretty simple point. You’re very patient!

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