The Opposite of Effortlessness - Christine Kane

So, this seed is in the ground, right?

And the seed sits there in the dark and thinks, “Oh, man. I know I could be something more. I just know it. I could be GRASS. That’s it! I know I could be grass!”

And so it sets out trying to be grass. It clenches up its seed fists and pushes really hard. When nothing happens right away, it starts a support group with all the other seeds around it that are also working hard to be grass. (They notice that there are some seeds that aren’t trying hard enough, so they deride them and call them lazy loser seeds.)

The seed stays awake at night wondering if she could ever succeed, if there’s any hope for her, if she’ll be taken care of, and what if she ends up being a bag-seed on the street corner begging for spare change? This thought alone makes her wake up nervous, beginning each day with clenched teeth and a Venti latte.

After a little while, a sprout appears, and the seed feels it. She gets out a mirror and checks it out. “Damn!” she thinks. “The sprout on that seed over there looks way better than mine.” So, she vows to work harder, to push harder, to get ahead of the other seeds. She writes her goals down in her Franklin Covey planner and vows to wake up earlier and gain some leverage on the competition.

One day, a giant panting evil entity covers the blade of grass with a large shadow. The seed-sprout shouts, “NO!” And without warning, she is showered with an offensive liquid for a full 45 seconds. When the shower finishes the sprout is stepped on by the foot of the evil creature. The sprout gets bent back and slightly cracked from the pressure.

The sprout now has a crisis of faith. “I’ll never be a blade of grass. God just doesn’t like me much.” And she orders another round of personal development books from, including “Why Bad Dogs Happen to Good Grasses.” The sprout goes to some seminars, eventually regains her faith, and tries even harder.

The seed’s progress is slow, but she pushes and pushes and after many weeks of strain, effort, and hard work, she makes it to her desired height of thirteen inches. (Lucky for this seed, she wasn’t planted anywhere near a suburban gated community.) She has knocked down lots of the other grass on the way, making sure that she is the only blade of grass in this plot of land. She stands out and works hard to maintain her status. It’s a little lonely at the top.

She knows she can’t just rest on her laurels. It’s time to start trying to make new seeds so that more grass can grow. She makes it her goal to find the perfect soul mate and learn about fertility and what to expect when you’re expecting. She vows to work hard at this next part of her life’s path. There are many books about soul mates out there…


Has it ever occurred to you that if the natural world worked like humans do sometimes, then your lawn would be on prozac?

  • Skip Alan – Drummer

    I love your taxi blog and had to comment, all the best.

  • Kathryn

    Well said. Surely you must know this apt Zen quote but if not: “Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.” Ahhh, how peaceful!

  • shan

    This post made my day.

  • Christine Kane

    Hi Lalah, You can click on “Archives” which is halfway down the right sidebar. All of my posts are listed by title. You can pick and choose which ones appeal to you. (But this theme is kind of woven through them all!) You can start here though:

  • Lalah

    Funny to come across this entry right now. I’m totally fussed up tonight about how the hell to love myself as I am while also seeking the mindfulness of my STUFF that will keep me from passing all of it on to my son. Gotta tell you, I’m not a pretty sight, and dammit, no one seems to want to take this probelm and solve it for me. It’s like they’ve all got their own stuff to work on or something, go figure. So, Christine, assuming you did follow this post up with more thoughts on more allowing with less pushing, could you send me (or post here) a link? It’s info I could stand to ponder. Thanks!

  • christine

    Cheryl, Thanks for the beautiful story! (I got all teary!) And thanks for the kind words about my music. I’m glad you found the blog…

    MK, You rock too!

    Caren, we ALL rock! I, too, have often thought about Rudloph and how lame that story is. “If you become useful to us, then we won’t make fun of your nose, and then it’s a happy ending.” Weird. Thanks for that reminder! You probably need to get to writing that kid’s book…

    Hi Danielle, You’re totally welcome! And thanks for the inspired thoughts there…

    Robyn, I’ll be writing more about this in the next blog or two. But effortlessness is not about inaction. For example, when I was learning to play Led Zepplin tunes on my guitar, it was hard, my fingers hurt, I had to set the metronome on really slow. But I was so IN LOVE with the work. It wasn’t effort…it was joy. Probably the same applies to someone learning physics. If you have that kind of mind, you probably can get lost in the learning, in the mastery. Of COURSE it’s not easy to understand, but the work can feel effortless when you are lost in it. Does that make sense? I think there’s a way to take steps forward (even in my career) with a little bit more allowing, and a little less pushing.

  • Robyn McMaster

    Chris, I had to laugh because each step forward took effort. Was it that way for you in your climb up as an artist?

    When my son didn’t get it in a college physics class, he went to his prof for help. After he had an aha, his prof commented, “If it were easy, everyone could do it.”

  • Danielle


    First off, thank you so much for the personal ‘thank you’ message for my Christmas card. You’d be amazed how much it meant to hear back from you!

    Secondly, we are all constantly surrounded by the ideas that everyone should be constantly getting better, faster, stronger, etc. Growing up a hardcore type “A”, I let that swell of adrenaline-junkie, “do more, be more” panic overwhelm everything that made me special. It was cocaine in PTA-friendly packaging. It took a huge fall off my chosen (and sometimes dirtily faught-for path) to break my tunnel vision.

    This post just reminds me again, as I will always need the reminder, that its okay to be me. Its okay that my task list will never, ever be totally empty and that my life isn’t judged by anyones ‘accomplishment’ measure (especially my old ‘be the best’ self). Its hard to find balance between letting yourself off easy (ie: quitting or not working hard enough) and just being so diehard that you miss out on living this fabulous life we’ve been blessed.

    So here’s to the little grass seed – lets hope she figures out that the lawn will be healthier and happier if they all help each other up along the way (and they’ll be cut down less if they focus just a little less on getting to ‘the top’).

    Happy New Year!

  • Caren

    Forgot to say, I loved that poem Cheryl. You rock, too. 😉

  • Caren

    I’m glad it wasn’t that kind of story… how many Ugly Ducklings and Rudolphs do we need? PLUS – why is it that to gain acceptance in those stories, the outcast has to turn out beautiful, or do something completely amazing? Where’s the acceptance for being just who they are? Just being?

    Adding that to my list of children’s stories I need to write….

    P.S. Yes, you rock!!

  • mary katherine

    I love this. Thanks for making me laugh out loud and think even more about letting go and simply being. In case I haven’t told you lately, you rock!

  • Cheryl

    Though I listen to your music daily and my daughters, 4 and 7 (enthusiastically) and my high school students (secretly) know your songs by heart, I have never read your blog.

    I went to your website today when I was searching for new music, and read this :).
    My mom, who passed away five years ago, has been on my mind all day and when I read this it reminded me of her and a poem that I wrote for her years ago but had forgotten about.

    As the girl proudly presented her
    mother the bouquet
    there were whispers in the room.
    “Those are just weeds,” someone said.
    “Worth nothing at all!” another exclaimed.

    The girl began to doubt her gift.

    But the mother never doubted.
    She looked in the center
    and found the worth others thought was lacking.
    She told the girl that she knew the bouquet would
    blossom and grow
    and seeds would spread
    into the most beautiful bouquet in the world.

    Years later, there were whispers in the room
    “What a beautiful garden,” someone said.

    Thank you for your reminder of the universal nature of our struggle to be, and the deep gift that is within us all- the potential for all kinds of growth- often in ways we had never intended-

  • christine

    Hi Tammy, I’ve actually read your blog quite a bit…so welcome! Thanks for the note!

    Caren, I considered that possibility…but then the story just got way too long and into all kinds of drama! And yes, there have been lots of “effortlessness”-s on the word list this year.

    Susanne, I actually like franklin-covey overall. but i’ve never been good with a planner anyway. Mostly I do fine with spiral notebooks. I wrote this because i was inspired by people who told me their word was effortlessness. what a good word!

    Thanks for that anne. Someone somewhere deserves a small royalty for her lyric!

    Hi Ron, Thanks! I’m lucky cuz I live in the woods where no one has lawns! Just trees and rhododendron and no prozac!

    Nneka, Actually I do believe in all of that treasure mapping and intending stuff. It’s the work of effortlessness! So, you go girl…

    Thanks Robin…Oooo, I grew up in academia, and I’m still surrounded by it in my family. And yes, I see what you mean. However, I think this could be applied to pretty much everything where our brains try to take over. Glad to provide a smile today!

  • Robin

    Oh my goodness, you have just described academia! Too funny, I have tears running down my face here (not to worry, they are from laughter).


  • Nneka

    I just had a thought that all this treasure mapping, intending, goal reading, and driving the point into my psyche is my mechanism for biding my time for the natural course of things….NAH 🙂

    Great post! Thanks for the reminder to “look at the lilies of the field” and observe that they do not toil, yet all their needs are provided for.

  • Ron

    Ha! Actually, I look outside and conclude that my lawn may well be on prozac – it’s just lying there like it doesn’t have a care in the world.

    Thanks for the reminder of the futility of anxiety (and the extent to which we’re in the dark about our own potential).

  • anne

    I heard a lyric on the radio this morning that was ‘You’re gonna find yourself somewhere, somehow’……sort of a similar sentiment I think. We don’t always need to force the where and the how too much….

  • Susanne

    Oops, “myself” not “my self”.

  • Susanne

    Well, my word was “effortless”. I have been saying it to my self several times a day since I chose it, and every time I smile.

    I had to look up Franklin Covey, had never heard about it. So, if I use their methog I’ll gain three hours a week? I know how to do that myself. Stop reading blogs – gain 8 hours a week. See – it’s easy. But not so much joy – pity.

    No, you’re right, some things have to grow.

  • Caren

    I thought it was going to end up that she was actually a daisy, trying so hard to be the perfect grass… guess there’ve been lots of kids books written about that kind of thing, though.

    I love your story. Wasn’t someone’s word “effortless”? And there’s allowing, and being, and acceptance, and presence…

    Thanks so much, Christine!

  • tammy vitale

    oh, BRAVO, well said!