My once-faithful chainsaw having become chain-less, I was left with the archaic instruments of shovel and hedge clippers. The shrubbery I intended to remove from the front yard stared at me in defiance, nature taunting man, and I realized I needed to rely on my heart (and my physical conditioning) more than my technology.

Perhaps it has always been that way.

My blood spiked with excitement each time I saw a root system beginning to surrender to the onslaught of my shovel. Sometimes a bare shoot exposed itself in the soil, and I would yank and pull and several feet would yield to me. Once the round, dirt-laden cluster of roots was at last in my hands I would hold it high over my head like the Stanley Cup, rotating it around hoping a neighbor might notice my valor.

A pile of yard waste grew larger and larger next to my driveway. So it went for two hours, until it was time for a cookout with neighbors and a margarita or two. A cool, early evening breeze soothed my aches.

The pile is a scattering of tree limbs, hedge branches, clumps of dirt and pieces of root. I know I could not possibly have captured every inch of the systems I so violently disrupted. Fragments were scattered upon the ground, and perhaps some are nestled deep within the soil. Even now, maybe, they are seeking ways to communicate with each other and reunite, hungry to fuse in outrage and rebel throughout the night against the human who has come to occupy their land.

Deep with the soil, the fragments rest unknown.

Across our lifetime we say goodbye to people, places and opportunities. Sometimes their loss feels like a tree or bush ripped from the ground, or as a parting best described as a slow withering away. The root systems are often victims as well, but I wonder about those fragments that remain within the soil…embedded beyond the light of day, shards staking out forgotten territory in our hearts and unconscious.

Perhaps because the fragments of the roots remain, the people, places and opportunities stay a part of us also. They make the soil richer, because nothing that has once been planted goes to waste if we grow wise. The wise continue to rely on their hearts more than their technology.