Gathering Leaves by Robert Frost
Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.
I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.
I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?
Next to nothing for weight,
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.
Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who’s to say where
The harvest shall stop?
I remember this poem from when I was a kid, don’t you? Yesterday I did many errands, more than seemed even possible, then, I did the yard.
When I say “did the yard,” I mean I raked it. I did my neighbor’s also, just to be “nice.” Not his entire yard, which would have been too much, but his entire back yard, which is next to my yard without any dividing point so I just do the whole thing.
This chore (which I see as a joy) was overdue because of my trip to Denver, which took up over a week of my life away from Yard Work. So the yard had become raggedy and ungroomed. According to my lease I’m supposed to keep the yard civilized-looking.
I suppose coming home from an exhausting trip to find your yard entirely covered with a blanket of leaves is one thing. Coming home to find your house got broken into while you were gone and a window was smashed is another. The latter did not occur, thankfully. Standing there with my suitcase, knapsack, and Amtrak-appropriate blanket flopping out of a worn shopping bag, I laughed out loud at my crusty yard, and breathed a sigh of relief…My House is Fine.
I spent the first day kinda sleeping it off, bashing psychiatry Friday the 13th at night (check out my radio show!) and yesterday, running errands I cannot do on a Sunday. Saturdays are like that, crammed with two days’ worth of stuff due to lack of buses on Sundays.
First I went southward (free bus transfer!) to a medical clinic to get a TB test done for work. Then I stopped in a department store before the bus arrived to pick up a few household items. I picked up the bus, transfered and headed northward, past my house. By now, I was nodding off on the bus. (I let myself do this.) I knew I wouldn’t miss my stop. I got off at another store to pick up something I had on order. I rushed in, got it, ran out, and managed to catch the southbound bus. I had to carry a lot back onto the bus, but I managed. Twenty minutes later I was home.
Okay, now…Time to rake the leaves.
But first, I want to talk a bit about adult responsibility. I talk about this a lot. We are robbed of this opportunity as “patients.” We are robbed of the opportunity to contribute to society, to give to others, to raise children (or have any contact with kids), to do meaningful work, to pull our own weight, to take care of ourselves, to transport ourselves, to make our own decisions, both big and small.
How does this happen? We get handouts. We have stuff done for us. This is called supervision, care, management, whatever, and it slowly wrecks our lives. They provide transportation and then, we forget how to do for ourselves. They provide housekeeping and then, we forget how to clean up our own messes. They put our pills in pill boxes (how insulting!) and then, we forget which ones we’re on and become medically helpless and dependent.
To end your mental patient status you have to undo all this. Take back your right to be a giving and productive human being. Take back your sense of responsibility that adults rightfully have.
In 2012 when I was trying to move I wrote to a place in a faraway city that I turned down because I was going to have to do YARD WORK. Oh dear. Why did I think I couldn’t do it? Because the System had taught me helplessness.
I love raking leaves! I love the pleasure of taking the responsibility of caring for a yard instead of having someone else do it. I noticed these weed-like things (not brambles) around the side of the house. I plan to chop all that down with my lawnmover, maybe today. I don’t have clippers but I don’t need them. For the “close up” work I can just use a big pair of scissors.
I learned a few “technique” things about raking, time-saving methods such as turning the rake upside-down and using it as a shovel. Yesterday I gathered maybe ten bags of leaves and crap from the yard but I didn’t have to bag it all this time. My neighbor told me the trash people take the leaves if you put them in a certain spot.
I wiped my brow. I looked back on my transformed yard. All that work. I called it good. Plenty good enough. A day’s work for sure. And headed back in.