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Rebecca Carpenter Photography Vicky-56.j

Let the grass grow long

I was driving my car a few days ago along the main road nearest to where I live. I drive this way frequently and tend to zone out, but on this particular day I actually paid proper attention to my surroundings as I drove by.

I noticed that the grass on the verges had been allowed to grow long, rather than being mown short. It looked beautiful and there were even wildflowers coming up amongst the long blades of grass. There was a random patch on the other side of short grass and I couldn’t help but compare the two; yes the longer grass was more unkempt, more uneven, but its wild beauty just looked so much more appealing.

As I made this observation, I remembered a conversation I had recently overheard between two locals - one of whom was expressing displeasure at the local council’s lack of attention to the verges. I started to wonder what exactly it was about the grass being left to grow long they might bother that person so much. And I’m sure it’s not just them - in fact I’d hazard a guess that most of us in the western world would feel shameful if we were to let our lawns grow wild. We might even look upon a neighbour’s garden that had been left unkempt and think negatively towards them.

Why is this?

Why has long, wild, natural, beautiful grass become the enemy? When did this happen? And why does it enrage certain individuals so much when grass verges are left to grow long?

As I continued to drive (I often find my drives become an opportunity for my thinking brain to go wild, so I really let this little thought train loose), I wondered whether it’s partly because we associate an unkempt verge with a lack of order or a challenge to the status quo. Maybe we think it shows a lack of care, and we project that lack of care from the verges onto ourselves? So when the council fails to maintain that pesky grass, it is really failing to look after us.

Or perhaps it is more than that. If you think about it, most of us have been told for the majority of our lives that we need to be tidy, we need to follow rules and we need to fit in.

“Don’t be too loud”

“Don’t be too silly”

“Don’t be too messy”

“Don’t cry”

These are all subtle messages that thread through our lives and teach us that being wild or going against the status quo is bad. Maybe that’s why uncut grass is so galling… if we aren’t allowed to let our hair grow long and let go of all the pressures of conforming to society, then why should the bloody grass be allowed to??

At this point in my deep thought train, a song came on the radio and cut through my thinking. It was a song by Florence and the Machine, called Hunger. The lyrics were so poignant that I laughed - it felt like I had manifested the song into playing with my thoughts! The opening lines go like this:

At seventeen I started to starve myself

I thought that love was a kind of emptiness

And at least I understood then the hunger I felt

and I didn’t have to call it loneliness

We all have a hunger.

We all have a hunger.

And I realised as I listened that this is why we find it hard to let the grass grow long. Because if we let the grass grow maybe we will notice the hunger that we are all feeling inside for greater freedom, for a more beautiful and love-filled life, for the opportunity to break free of societal expectations and be our fullest, wildest selves.

If the grass is more beautiful when it is unrestrained and allowed to be what it naturally is, then maybe we would be more beautiful if we let go too.

Maybe there is a more beautiful, less perfect, more free version of ourselves deep inside ready to grow away to her heart’s content.

And maybe we should just let the grass grow long.

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