The Lawnmower Chronicles – Episode 9

The lawn is really showing some wear now. Spots in the backyard have stopped growing, turned brown, and become thin. Some parts of the lawn continue to look thick and green. The ground remains hard; even the weekend-long rain of last weekend did not really soften the ground. The job goes faster now, but today was a pretty terrific day to cut grass: sunny, not too hot (low seventies), low humidity, a slight breeze. Can’t ask for much more – hardly broke a sweat.

Upon beginning to mow the lawn, I found a song stuck in my head from Cabaret: “I Don’t Care Much.” I was humming it while mowing, and it seems that all of a sudden I was thinking about a lot of things I don’t care about. Even the state of the lawn – I don’t care about that so much. It is what it is, and while I think sometimes about re-doing the whole lawn (leveling, re-seeding, new soil), I really don’t care that much to do it.

I began to mow the lawn right after the Bills lost to the Patriots. The season is young, and so is the team, but they are fun to watch in the early going. I don’t really care much about football anymore. It’s become something to pass the time on an autumn day, but I find that if I can do anything else other than watch a football game, I will do it. I think it’s because I value these days off so much that wasting time watching football is just that. Just don’t care anymore.

As I was mowing the front right-of-way by the street, I kept a lookout for dog poop. I don’t usually find any, but one time this summer I found a pile, so I do keep an eye out now. I don’t know why people care so much about pets. I like cats, but since my last cat died I haven’t really felt the urge to get another one. I don’t know how people get to care so much about their pets. When my cat died, I don’t recall being so broken up. She was a great cat, and I have fond memories, but the fact that she died did not break me up all that much.

Then I began to think about things going on at work, and once again I find I don’t care much about what’s happening. Enrollment is down, and there is a lot of activity surrounding student recruitment. They are talking about 5-year restructuring plans, and I probably don’t care much because I won’t be there in five years.

I’ve got a popup trailer in my backyard as well as an extra car in the driveway, both of which I don’t need but neither of which I have on sale. I don’t care enough to make the Craiglist listing, and I really don’t want to go through the trouble of dealing with people and paperwork. I don’t care enough to sell them.

Caring. When it comes right down to it, I think I have lost my capacity to care very much about mostly anything. I wish I could say what that is, but I can’t. My best guess is that life is becoming very narrow and very immediate to me. What I actually need to care about is simply becoming smaller. My children, my parents – that’s going to be about it very soon. Politics, world affairs, art, culture, social trends, all of these things are not worth caring about anymore. Maybe another reason why that’s true is because you start to feel you’ve seen it all by now. Perhaps one cares about things only because they are new, or because your survival depends on caring about something. Perhaps this is a transitional phase, and once I can actually shuck off the present concerns and create a passion of my own, caring needs to take a back seat.

After finishing the lawn, I usually stare out the window to admire the work. As I was doing so, a local older man came walking by. In the summer he always has flip-flops, shorts, and a sleeveless shirt on. Sometimes he is walking a small dog on a chain. Sometimes he is accompanied by a small child. He seems to have little to care about, and his life seems small. I wonder if I don’t find something to care about soon I may end up an old man with a little dog that I don’t care about following me on a chain as we walk in the neighborhood we’ve known for 50 years.

I don’t care much, go or stay,
I don’t care very much either way.

Hearts grow hard on a windy street.
Lips grow cold with the rent to meet.
So if you kiss me, if we touch,
Warning’s fair, I don’t care very much.

I don’t care much, go or stay,
I don’t care very much either way.

Words sound false when your coat’s too thin
Feet don’t waltz when the roof caves in

So if you kiss me, if we touch,

Warning’s fair, I don’t care very much.

-Emcee, Cabaret

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