"Hard work never killed anybody,
but why take a chance?"
Rob Chiller has rediscovered the joys of speaking his mind after a decade-long stint
in Corporate America. When not behind a keyboard, Rob can be found offering his
unsolicited opinions on life to anyone who happens to be passing by his house.
As autumn slowly turns to winter, I have decided to make an early New Year's
resolution. I normally consider these resolutions to be a private matter, a
contract with one's self. But this year, I need your help. What I wish to
accomplish I cannot do alone, but only with the assistance and goodwill of my
fellow humans. Together, we can unburden ourselves from that which weighs
heavily on our hearts and backs. Together, we can stop the madness.
It's high time we stopped raking our leaves.
You're horrified, I know. I've gotten that reaction a lot lately,
especially from my neighbors. What I've suggested is an affront to all
that is Norman Rockwell, and American Suburbia. It flies in the face of
neat and clean lawns, trimmed into perfect rectangles.
It defies the lessons drilled into us from our parents, lessons about
"work ethic" and "keeping up appearances." "Rob," I was told by an
in-law at our latest holiday dinner, "you just need to rake up those
Not true. I need to eat. I need to drink. I need to sleep. If I stop
doing any of these things, I will die. That is need.
In stark contrast, my quality of life actually improves when my yard is
ankle-deep in leaves. Not only am I not wasting four hours of my life
every other Sunday picking up tree droppings, more importantly, I don't
have to mow the lawn. All of this extra time can be used to bond with
family, to catch up on some reading, or to continue down the path to
self-improvement. Personally, I choose to "self-improve" my hand-eye
coordination, by playing lots of video games.
So, we've established that the raking of leaves is not a dire necessity,
but instead labor we voluntarily inflict on ourselves. Why? The most obvious
answer is because everyone else does it. Despite the lessons we teach our
children, we cave to peer pressure daily. As much as we may detest the
backbreaking work, the thought of being "that house" on the block scares us
even more. No matter how individualistic we may be in spirit, we are
impossibly obsessed with the external, the idea of blending in, not appearing
But my landscaper friend tells me it's not that abstract. "Dude," he said, "if
you let your leaves sit and rot, they will essentially pour acid into your soil,
killing your grass and leaving you with a muddy pit."
My response to this is an emphatic "woo-hoo!" Don't you realize what this means?
Nature has devised her very own plan to save us forever from all yard work. And
we are actively fighting against this plan! Year after year, we continue to push
that proverbial rock up the mountain. What drives us to this lemming-like
According to my neighbor, it has something to do with property values. I can't
give you his exact quote, since this is a family magazine, but the gist of it
was that if I let my lawn turn into quicksand, his house would soon have the
approximate value of a used Kleenex.
Let's ignore the fact that this is the same man whose anguished cries reached the
Space Shuttle when he received his last property tax bill. And never mind that
those tax bills are calculated solely on those property values he holds so dear.
The simple fact is, if everyone stopped raking leaves, it wouldn't affect values
one red cent. Property values are based on "comparisons," or houses similar in
size to yours. And if everybody has the same general landscaping (none), they
can't take value away from your house because of it.
Perhaps your objection is purely aesthetic. Say you just don't want to look at
a bunch of muddy craters in your neighborhood. To you I say this: Human beings
are the most adaptable and perhaps even the most intelligent creatures on the
planet. We have the unique ability to change our perceptions through cognizance.
In short, my advice would be learn to love it.
You'll be seriously glad you did. Once you accept this new "look," you can bask
in the glory of your previously-lost weekends, and rest easy knowing you are
being just like everyone else. You will see everything in a new light. The
wet, trampled, muddy lawn across the street will no longer symbolize a lazy
neighbor or a reclusive shut-in. Instead, it will be a beacon, a signal to
examine the useless labor in your own life, and take some control back.
The lawn will look like freedom, and it will be beautiful.
Copyright © December 2003 Rob Chiller and Low Carb Luxury