If you decide to have a dozen trees cut down, it’s really damn expensive.
Still, when we moved into our house last fall, we knew it had to be done. The backyard resembled a forest – and not the inviting Disney kind filled with enchanted animals. With a canopy so dense it looked like midnight back there by lunchtime, not to mention several trees that were dead or otherwise poised to devastate our house, the job couldn’t be delayed any longer.
So when the tree removal crew showed up last week, I was determined to get my money’s worth out of the spectacle. And they really put on quite a show – scrambling to the top of 80-foot maples, rigging an elaborate rope system that swung 300-pound logs safely to the ground, dropping entire trees without so much as nicking the play set, carport, or even a square inch of fence.
Even more impressive was their speed. In 10 hours over two days, the crew took down 12 trees, ground about 20 stumps and cleaned up the entire mess. By the time they were done, our backyard looked transformed, with just about the right balance of sunshine and shade.
The whole experience got me thinking, “The inside of my brain probably looks the same way my backyard used to look – overcrowded and tangled, disordered and desperately in need of a serious pruning. What if it looked instead like our new and improved backyard?”
If that sounds appealing to you, here are three helpful lessons derived from last week’s tree-removal spectacular:
1) Enlist help: When we first considered this project, my wife suggested we could cut down some skinny trees ourselves. “I have no doubt I could cut them down,” I replied, “but I can’t guarantee where they will land.” Some might call that lack of confidence. In the business I work in, we call it self-awareness. So we brought in some experts to help us decide which trees should stay and which should go. Similarly, if you’re trying to de-clutter your brain, don’t try to do it yourself. Get some close family members or friends involved. They’ll probably be better judges than you of which habits, assumptions and obsessions need to be removed from your head.
2) Pay the price: As I mentioned, tree work isn’t cheap. Likewise, doing a real clean out of your brain comes with some costs – like time and effort, not to mention the potential pain of discovering some unflattering things about yourself, or having someone else point them out to you. It can also be slow because the answers often aren’t easy. I, for example, have spent the past several months gradually taking stock of things. But that’s all part of the process of becoming a better version of yourself.
3) Re-assess: After the first day of work, my wife and I initially gaped in wonder at how much better the yard looked. The crew had done everything we’d wanted. Then we paused and took a closer look. The yard really did look better. But it was also obvious that the job wasn’t done. With some trees gone, we could see more clearly that some of the remaining ones didn’t fit and would probably need to come down eventually anyway. So we had them work on those the next day. Once you’ve decided what you want to de-clutter from your brain, don’t quit as soon as you do just those things. Take a little time to examine the new terrain and see if there are still things that don’t need to be there. That might just allow some new seeds to grow.