Today I spent the day weeding.
Going in and pulling out all the “baddies,” as she calls them. “This chap and this chap are the only proper persons in the lot, and all these other fellows are the baddies that simply must go.”
At first it was obvious, the ones that were baddies that simply must go. Pulling and plucking, snipping and pruning... it was rather cathartic at first.
But the more and more I pulled, and the more the obvious batches of baddies disappeared, the more discerning I had to become in order to grab the ones that were trying to hide among the proper plants. I began to look very closely, and had to be rather knit picky.
“I’m almost done,” I would think, “I’ve gotten the lot of it out”. But the more I looked, the more I saw. Spotting and pulling and ripping them out of the earth. It soon became hard to tell the difference between what was proper and what was a baddie. In my strive for perfection, I kept on pulling, inevitably taking some small bits of the proper plants out with them as collateral.
I eventually found my back began to hurt from hunching over for so long, that I took a step back and paused. It was then that I saw.
From afar, and only slightly afar at that, you could no longer spot any baddies. As far as any average on-looker could see, I had gotten them all. But what you could also see was the bald patches where all the baddies had been, and where the proper plants were slowly shrinking from my incessant prodding and pruning and— perfecting.
I realized then that the flower bed looked better before.
Before I had started picking it all apart, over-examining every last inch, judging the goodies from the baddies until I could no longer tell the difference, until the goodies started to look like baddies and, had I not stopped from my back ache, I likely would’ve gone on to extract the entire thing
Until there was nothing left. No baddies. No goodies.
When I had first approached the flower bed, I honestly didn’t see any baddies. All together, the intertwining of the goodies and baddies side by side looked rather nice to me. But to her, she knew, what was welcome and what was an invader; what was proper and what was improper. And so I did as I was told.
But now, looking upon all that remained, I felt I had ruined it. The flower bed no longer looked whole and balanced. It didn’t look better, but worse. It looked empty. Lonely. Bare.
It wasn’t until the weeds were gone,
That I saw how they had made the proper plants all the more lovely.