Tag Archives: Fear-of-Underachievement

Reflections on Compulsive Behavior




When my father felt unsuccessful in achievement, he mounted his John Deer tractor

Lawn Mower

and mowed the lawn to an even, prickly height of green. He fed his suburban acre of tender stalks. He assassinated any botanical invader. He contained the edges – kept them upright by digging a narrow trench along the driveway and sidewalk borders. He transformed the tiny stems into obedient soldiers in uniforms of pea-green with spines of cellulose.

As drill sergeant and commander-in-chief, he accomplished his strategies to perfection. He stood back and appreciated the fruits of his labor at attention – listening to a language of silent servitude .  .  . in a format of formality – that offered him a sense of place and purpose.

The cutting of the lawn restored his faith in the malleability of life. It allowed him to stand tall and proud as The Grass Commander. Lawn GrassEven though no one heard the communication system. After all, drill training for grass is quiet and Neal was dedicated to control without many words.

Neal and grass spoke the same language somehow.

Similarly, I think that I arm myself with the vacuum cleaner.Vacuum Cleaner- Miele  I use this instrument to silently control the carpet fibers.To make them stand erect and pay attention to me. To respond to my power.

Until I walk away, and they slump back into relaxation. Or succumb to the pressure of feet.

I also use this machine as a form of white noise, as a form of mechanical meditation to calm my faithfully fretful nature. To still my fears of underachievement.

Something about bullying innocent little filaments brings an illusion of power

To the vacuumer

To the lawn cutter

And the grammar of the innocent is so pure:

The order

The system

The structural relationships

All are available for exploitation.

Sometimes power over innocence is all that keeps life standing upright. And Neal understood this dirty secret.

Grass yearns to be lazy with morning dew; drowsy in the mid-day sun; held captive by winter frost. Grass is languid. A temptation that compulsive controllers cannot resist.

And I somehow inhaled the legacy of his silent secret.