In appreciation of big steaming hot heaps of garbage

So the neighbor kid who mows my lawn, got it almost right… almost.

Yeah, the lawn was cut nicely, and his weed-whackin’ left a few too many weeds un-whacked, as usual… but overall my twenty bucks was well spent… except.

Except, that on the note I left him, about bagging the grass, and where to put it (near the garden), he didn’t. I’m sure old habit took over, and like last year, he felt best about dumping the clippings back at the compost pile. Okay fine. So, the reason we bagged this time, was to slice up some free garden mulch, to block weeds in the pathways and cool the roots of my tommytoes.

Well, tonight it was mulchin’ time. I sunk the four tines of my potato fork into the pile of grass, to toss a scoop into the wheelbarrow and Wow! A radiance of heat, and even a plume of steam! I felt the grass, and sure ’nuff, it was HOT! The pile of new cut grass had a quick shower, it was plenty moist. It was also put onto an older pile of grasses and compost from the last turning. The proportions were right and this stuff was cookin’! I was really amazed at how fast and how gosh-darn smokin’ hot the stuff was.

Well either way, that is my mulch, so I loaded it up. Like the last couple years, I’ve hand-spread these clippings out on my pathways and around some plants. Tonight though, I noticed something interesting about this process as I dug into the heat, and scattered the grasses around. When you feel the intensity of the temperature, coming from within, you can try to dig around and look for the source of it. I was literally peeling apart a handful of hot wet grass half-expecting to find an inner ember deep inside. Actually what I found was quite different. As I picked apart the clumps and tore the big pile into many smaller piles, the heat escaped, vaporized and dissipated into nothing. You can’t see or grasp exactly, where the burning is coming from…

I tossed and scattered and the light breeze was already starting a drying process as I went along. I suspect that by tomorrow afternoon, the grasses will be sun-baked and shriveled. By simply separating and spreading out the pile, I stopped it’s process. The heat, the decomposition, the steam was only built up, because the pile was heaped up, and untouched. Left to it’s own natural system, it would eventually have broken down into another form altogether…

Okay, big deal. It’s just wet grass. It happens. Duh.

No Duh.

Remember waaaay back in the early spring, I posted here about a incident of anger, and of frustration and of emotional HEAT and Energy, that I released into the woods around Forest Park? Yeah? Well, that buildup was just like my compost pile. It was HOT! It was Fuming and Steaming and Rotten! It was a natural process that was the result of me choosing to heap a bunch of fears and worries and insecurities into one big pile and just leave it there. I didn’t want to go near that stinky pile of garbage, and so I didn’t! Ha! That’s one way to deal with my emotional clutter and leftovers and clippings, I’ll just pile them up and leave them in the back corner of the yard of my heart, maybe forever.

Except, that someone sorta stuck my nose right into that pile, and I got ticked off!

Then, someone else, my Coach Megan, helped me see the beauty in the moment. She showed me how I could use the opportunity to help myself grow. I could choose to fix my own mess, and release myself of the pain and the agony of being burned by MY crap.

She spent the time with me, to dig into that steaming pile. She didn’t let me stop when I talked about how it hurt, or how someone else ’caused’ it to happen. She showed me that the big scary burning pile of emotional rubbish actually didn’t have any embers or sparks or dangerous-ness in it at all. It was all in the leaving-alone of it, that it even had any power.

In our work, as we tossed around a handful here and a handful there, the emotions started to lose their intensity. They almost immediately cooled down. The breeze, the attention and awareness of dissecting the big ole stack of crap, actually turned it into harmless little clippings of mulch that I could walk on, or spread around in useful ways. In fact, that lesson she taught me is something I use almost every day.

Our fears, our junk and our worries, have no real power, can gain no heat and can not burn us at all, if we keep scattering them around. If we handle them, and play with them, and look at them closely, we’ll see that they contain no inner ember, no hot coals. As long as we keep digging into, and sweating through the regular process of scattering our emotional heap, it can’t build up, and cause a real fire.

Fire? From compost? Oh yeah, I did forget to mention that this heat can eventually become highly dangerous. A big pile, left too long, and doing too much of this natural process can reach temps high enough, that a switch happens. The microbial and biological processes actually burn themselves up and a chemical reaction takes over. Then we have real fire and it can really burn…

Luckily, I think most of us just swelter and sweat and steam among our various piles of emotional compost. We aren’t quite yet to the unstoppable blazing inferno point… yet. Megan taught me a huge lesson about my own crap, it only has power when I keep it stuffed down and tucked away untouched. When I bring it up into the light, it just loosens and cools and floats away in the wind, leaving me calmed, open, at peace.

Of course, it’s up to us. We can just pile up a bunch of thoughts and memories and regrets and hurts and crap, and leave in the corner of our backyard… I hope we don’t leave them too long… If we’re lucky, the fire will only burn us… but probably not.

I don’t know about you, but when I do little things, like spread mulch, I think of the bigger picture, what it means in my life, how it reminds me of something else much more important and significant. My Einstein-ish theories are about how we live in a copy and paste Universe. How we can look at the truth of how one things works, copy that, and paste it perfectly into the truth of how something else works. We can learn everything from anything, and anything from everything. If we really are in great awareness and focus, answers come easy.

Let us be aware. Let us play and scatter and get our hands dirty. Let us grow ourselves always and appreciate our whole garden of life. Including the vibrant flowers, the tasty veggies, the sun and dirt and yes, as Megan taught me, even the compost pile out back 🙂


Aaron Nichols