Whenever I wasn’t with clients yesterday, I was outside pressure washing our deck. This is an annual ritual—one that’s made even more necessary because of my beloved locust tree (“The Tree”).
The Tree is very messy. Each spring, seedpods fall creating a lot of residual muck to get rid of.
But, in spite of the annual cleanup, I love The Tree. She spreads her branches far above the house offering shade from the southwest exposure. Her beautiful canopy invites sunlight to filter through the tiny leaves. At night, she doesn’t block out the stars—she’s happy to share the space with them. She adds beauty and grace in the summer, and stands strong through the brutal winters.
The pressure washer is so different from The Tree. When it comes “to life”, it’s noisy and serious. It has a big job to do. Pressure washing is one of the few tasks I do completely methodically—it’s key to move back and forth systematically. If you’re too far away you miss a lot of dirt. If you’re too close, you can rip up the boards.
When I’m out on the deck with the sun shining down on me, and birds chirping in the background, I get lost in the back and forth rhythm. I embrace the repetition as hours fly by and layers of dirt lift off.
The deck is not “perfect”. It has a lot of “scars” from life being played out on it. I’m sure not perfect either. I have scars and gouges and stains. I realize that the deck will never be the same as when it was new and untouched, and that’s as it should be. I have to keep reminding myself that human perfection isn’t attainable either. We’re not supposed to be flawless, or able to do it all or be it all.
Like The Tree, I can create messes and I can offer “shade” in the heat of life.
Like The Tree I can invite the sunlight of others to shine through.
Like The Tree, I’ve lived through some brutal seasons.
Like The Tree I sometimes have a lot of residual muck to clean up.
When I’m “pressure washing” my life—trying to get rid of what’s covering up its core—I often go about it the wrong way. Sometimes I do it too hastily and end up making it more challenging. Sometimes I make changes that appear to make it better, but don’t really get to the real crud that’s beneath the surface.
So, I have to keep trying to think about it differently. I want to be methodical (but not obsessive) and look at my life with true awareness—removing what’s unnecessary, embracing the scars, and creating a life that speaks to the language of my heart. And so, my journey continues.