When I woke up this morning I went through my usual routine, with the exception of bringing Rebekah coffee in bed, (she’s in Connecticut). But The Muse was not with me when it was time to write, so spent the next couple of hours doing yard work.
I picked up a bunch of dead wood, removed some low-hanging limbs from the Amazon Rain Tree, rolled up the hoses, and was behind my lawnmower by 8:30. Being Florida, it was already pushing 90 along with enough humidity to spike the “feels-like” number well into uncomfortable.
But, bottom line, I really enjoy mowing. It’s good exercise, it clears my head, and it gives me a clear space in which to think. And I know I’m not alone in this. My brother-in-law Jesse put the following as his facebook status the other day: “I had a great time cutting the grass this morning. Love a job that allows me to see my progress and appreciate the accomplishment afterward. Can anyone relate?”
My back yard may not be 100% actual lawn, but it’s a nice mixture of grass and neatly scalped weeds – plus it’s the right color green when it rains, and it’s summer in Florida so there’s no shortage of that.
Mowing, to my way of thinking, represents real, honest, “look what I did” work. There are no subtleties or nuances when you’re running a new blade with 6.75 ft-pounds of gross torque through the grass in the back yard. It’s about sweat, walking three miles or so, cleaning up afterwards, and feeling good about what you’ve done.
I guess what I’m saying is that yard work is real. It’s about as authentic as work gets…
Or that’s what I used to think until I turned on one of those “The pressure is on to sell your house” shows the other day. There are several versions, involving everything from major remodeling to just a few bucks spent on creative staging. The idea is to help the homeowners by making the houses look more attractive to buyers.
Fair enough. New paint, clean carpets and eliminating clutter all serve to help potential buyers see beyond the mess and evaluate the house on its merits.
Landscaping works the same way. Cut back the bushes, add some flowering plants, fix the sidewalk, replace dead areas and weeds with new sod, paint the front door. It’s called “curb appeal” and it makes sense.
Fakery Alert! Imagine my surprise – and horror – when one of the TV teams included “re-sod the yard” as a priority, but then spray-painted instead to say funds for other stuff!
I kid you not, halfway through the episode this truck rolls up with a tank and a hose and the guy applies dye to the entire yard. He was done in 15 minutes, but hung around to talk with the hosts. “I’m making a good living here in Florida,” he said. “My clients are typically banks and realtors who don’t want to waste money on landscaping. So they have me come by with my truck. It helps the home show better, you know.”
What amazed me was that everyone was Okay with this! No ethics-based questions by the hosts, or the homeowners, or the realtor who was evaluating the project. “I’m impressed,” the show hosts said. “It looks just like healthy grass. Buyers will never know the difference.”
I turned off the TV in disgust at the blatant manipulation. But what was maybe worse than the deception was the fact that nobody seemed to see it that way. To them the charade was legit because “Appearance” is the name of the game.
The Real Thing!
Personally, I believe that there’s no substitute for reality. Authenticity, to my mind, is far more appealing than fakery designed to sell.
I believe this is a huge problem in the Christian world, too. In relationships, in institutions, in the presentation of the Gospel, in testimonials…. When appearance trumps authenticity, everyone loses.
But this post has gone long enough already. I’ll continue my thoughts in the chapter I’m writing for the new book. The chapter title? “Authenticity”.