Thursday, May 21, 2009

Getting the Roots

I'm spending time in my garden every day at this point. Spring time is in full swing here in Seattle. Lots and lots and lots of weeds!

I used to have lots of different people help me with the weeding of my garden. I have a large yard, and it takes a lot of time to keep it up.

Many of the people that I hired to help me seemed to be content with making the garden 'look good' temporarily, by simply removing the visible parts of the weeds, without digging out the roots. This actually made my problems worse, not better.

When the roots are not removed, the weeds grow back. Furthermore, the root system often expands in that situation, which makes removal even more difficult.

As I have taken over the weeding myself, I apply a more stringent approach to the weeding process. I always try to remove the root system. Although I'm not always successful, it happens most of the time, because I make it a serious priority.

As a result, over the past few years, my weed problems have gotten increasingly less severe. I'm removing the root systems, therefore, I have fewer weeds with each passing year. If I miss the root system on a particular pass, I'm likely to get it the next time. Once the root system is gone, that particular weed never returns again.

It is the same with the root causes of our problems in life. If we simply struggle to remove the visible problem, without consider the root cause, we are doomed to see that same problem again and again. It literally 'grows back' from the root. Just because the weed is no longer on the surface, doesn't mean it's permanently gone. The root must be removed in order to know for sure that it is gone for good.

Our culture is one that focuses on the suppression of symptoms and wrestling with the symptom itself, rather than to seek an understanding of what is 'causing' our problem. It is often a more time consuming and complex process to dig out the 'root cause' of a problem, rather than to simply try to get rid of the symptom. We tend to be an impatient culture. We want it solved yesterday! But it is truly an illusion to believe that we can simply chop the weed off at the ground, and expect it to be gone for good.

If, for example, we wrestle an addiction to the ground, without addressing what purpose the addiction served, and where the addiction came from, we will either 'relapse' into that same addiction, or another addiction will emerge to take it's place. The 'cause' is still there. It WILL manifest somewhere.

Likewise with some of our physical problems. I'm always perplexed by the volume of antacid commercials, where they show someone eating a chili dog, feeling ill effects, and popping a magic pill to take away the discomfort. Sometimes, they show the person proactively taking the pill to allow consumption of the chili dog without consequence. I get so irritated when I see that. Maybe we should consider that eating a chili dog MIGHT NOT BE GOOD FOR US? What is the cause of the discomfort? If we simply look for a way to avoid the discomfort, are we really taking good care of ourselves? I submit that we often suppress symptoms at the expense of our greater good.

Just as we need to dig out the roots of the weeds in our garden, we need to dig out the root causes of the problems in our lives. Only in addressing the root causes will we find long term, sustainable solutions!

Happy root digging!