Anxiety's Complex Root System: From Green Shoot To Buried Root
Every spring, I start refilling the bird feeder on my back deck with seeds.

As the birds (and, ugh, squirrels) flit around during their meal, they accidentally scatter seeds everywhere. They fall down onto the grass, onto my deck, and occasionally, into some of my potted plants.

Birds are messy. (I should know; I own a parrot who enjoys whipping food – from seeds to fresh veggies – right out of his cage and onto my living room carpet.)

Thanks, birds.


But this post isn’t about birds. It’s about what happens to the outdoor bird seed when it lands into the fertile soil that surrounds my potted plants.

And, in fact, this post isn’t even about that.

But humor me for a moment: the seeds fall. They land in the soil. And, frankly, I don’t know enough about cheap outdoor bird food to visually distinguish between the types of seeds.

But I do know this: when they fall into dirt, they grow into something green that resembles crab grass. A short, green, stocky stem emerges from the soil surrounding my marigolds or my tomato plants.

And I pluck them. To me, they’re weeds. Birdseed weeds.

Here’s the thing about pulling out these weeds: above the soil, they’re small. They look delicate and easily pluck-able.

But when I grab one and yank at it?

I unearth a complex and gnarly root system about five times as large as the weed itself.

And now, to the real topic of this post: anxiety and its hidden depth.


My husband and I are (attempting) to buy a house. It was fun, sort of, when we started: We scoured over the listings on the Zillow iPad app, we drove by the ones that looked promising, and then we set up visits with our buyer’s agent.

The novelty wore off soon, perhaps after we walked through the tenth house on our list, or perhaps after we offer we put on our Dream Home was denied. Or maybe it happened when nearly all ten of our “favorite” houses were scooped up within a week. (Where we live, in a small-but-quickly-growing town in the middle of Pennsylvania, the market is weirdly hot.)

And that brings me to today. As my husband and I were driving home after a weekend visit with his parents, he asked me this:

“You know, whatever house we end up buying…I mean, we might only be there for five years or so. If there’s no work left in my industry, we’d have no choice but to move out of the area.”

Cue the minor breakdown. What? Whaaaat? I can barely plan for tomorrow and now, suddenly, I have to think about five years down the road?

Enter a long chain of catastrophic thinking that ended in tears. Well, not just tears — meta-tears.

(Check back tomorrow to see if my chain of negative thinking sounds anything like yours!)

Photo by [ Tam Nguyen Photography ]