The scenario: You have a patch of raw earth outside, you’d like to turn into a lawn. You don’t want to slap on chunks of already grown grass (turf), but prefer starting with seeds – grass seeds, to be sown across prepared soil, and then nurtured, watered, observed, cared for and taken to a state of ‘lawn-hood’. Growth monitored, measured and appreciated.
The alignment is about choice (to plant grass seed that will need time to grow, and an investment of care, to support the growth) and about aligning one’s responsibilities towards the grass seed, and one’s ability to commit to and marshal the resources, and time needed, to reach a fully grown new lawn situation.
We prepare the earth, we rake, sow and water and eventually the first shoots appear, and begin to mesh together. Further scatterings of seed are necessary, and the care continues on a daily basis.
Weeds appear too, because the ground is not without its inheritance. Weeds – the “unloved flowers”, as Goethe put it – they are a nuisance. We don’t want them because they spoil the congruence and homogeneity of the lawn, and so we dedicate ourselves to extracting them – weed by weed – dandelion by dandelion. Once I took a shortcut with weed-killer and regretted it. That act undermined the alignment. It was the mark of impatience.
Then the patch of grass starts to take form, so much so that the first mowing begins – tending to height and body. The cut blades accumulate and add substance to the compost.
The weeds keep on coming and some bald patches persist. The purity of earth, seed, and blade growth refuses to adhere to purity. This isn’t a cricket field, a football field or anything of that kind. We haven’t become a manicurist of grass but remain simply a keeper of grass. Later on, the lawn will become robust enough for the pounding of feet. Games of football, badminton and running wildly around, will become a part of the lawn’s life.
The lawn borders on more raw earth and further alignment issues present themselves. Flowerbed or vegetable-patch, or both? What’s in shade, half-shade or in full sun? How can we grow in sustainability to these further developments? How ecological do we want to be and what is that anyway?
The definition of metaphor is a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else. How important is the symbolic in our lives? Is ‘alignment’ a fancy yet empty expression? Or something we have a personally meaningful relationship with?
What does COVID-19 symbolize for each of us?