Friday, April 13, 2012

I wasn't there for the weeds

Henry Eyring was a really famous Chemist who won the national medal of science.  He died of cancer in 1981. Toward the end of his life, when he was in a lot of pain from his disease, he lead a group of volunteers to weed a huge field of onions in a charity farm.  People who were there that day said he scooted along the rows patting people on the back and making friendly comments.  He laughed and had a great time but was in so much pain that he couldn't stand for long periods of time.

When they were done with the weeding they went into the farmhouse.  One of the workers looked at them and said, "you didn't just weed that field did you?  It was sprayed yesterday.  All of those weeds were going to die anyway."

When Henry was telling the story to his family he laughed and hooted and told everyone how hilarious it was. His son turned to him and said, "Dad, you can really be taking it that lightly.  You did a lot of work and you were in a lot of pain and it was all wasted."

Henry looked at his son and said, "Hal, I wasn't there for the weeds."

I read that story in college and loved it.  I thought it was a lovely idea.

I did not know the deep and significant meaning that "Hal, I wasn't there for the weeds" would play in my life.  I have to constantly remind myself why I am doing what I am doing.

So, let's say you're dying Easter eggs and all 12 of yours end of cracked due to them being dropped in dye cups and they all end up a lovely shade of brown because the dyer insists that they each go in every cup.  As a somewhat accomplished egg dyer yourself it might be easy to get upset if don't remember that you're not there for the eggs.

If you're at the world-renown San Diego Zoo and you spend 90% of your time hanging from banisters and walking along curbs it's easy to get frustrated and insist that you hurry on your way in an angry voice if you don't remember that you're not there for the animals.

Here's to a lovely weekend.  Let's hope we can all remember that we're not here for the weeds.


  1. this is one of those posts I'm going to have to bookmark for my future benefit.

  2. We went to the National ZOO in DC a few months back. We didn't see the animals either...We have lots of pictures of curbs and railings though. :)

  3. Excellent post, Sallee, thanks! I feel the same way a lot of times when I'm playing with Max - I have to remind myself that it doesn't matter if he doesn't get the point of the game, or gets fixated on climbing on a bench instead of the cool new playground equipment, the point is that we are having a good time together. It's nice to know others sometimes struggle to remember that too. :)