When Old Hinders New

I’ve been working on my taxes all day. Ug. As I sort through receipts and tax forms, my eyes wander out the window to my garden. I see daffodil and tulip bulbs breaking ground. Wow! Spring is coming!

But wait, I also notice all the old flowers shriveled and brown, impeding the new growth.

I decide to head out into the yard and clip back the dead growth. I really don’t want anything getting in the way of those gorgeous Spring flowers. They shouldn’t have to fight their way to the surface. They need my help. And yes, I’m procrastinating. Taxes can wait. Tulips can’t!

While I’m outside freezing my fingers off clipping back mums and lavender and sweet potato vines (snow is coming tonight), I realize how much of life is like my garden.

It’s really hard to start fresh when old, dead growth stifles our progress.

I think of work and all that we do (as a federal bureaucracy) that is merely a relic of the past — just because we’ve always done things a certain way. We stamp the same forms with the same stamp the person before us used. Heaven forbid using an electronic stamp. Or quit stamping all together. We don’t know what to do with change, and yet when it’s forced upon us, we eventually get used to it. We may even grow to like it.

If we clip away the past, innovation might just have a chance.

Shuttle Stack

Shuttle Stack

Take, for example, the Space Shuttle program. We made the decision to pave the way for future space transportation by closing out this chapter in our nation’s space program. We couldn’t move forward as long as we were busy taking care of what we had. Though we don’t have an American transportation solution worked out yet, who knows what might spring up now that the Shuttle (sadly) will no longer be our vehicle of choice. Commercial space has a chance to take off, so to speak.

We’ve cleared a path for others to follow.

Letting go of the old to make way for the new isn’t easy. But nothing worth doing is ever easy, is it? Funny thing I’ve learned about myself through the years, I place more value on accomplishments I work really hard for.

Sometimes breaking free from the past is the hardest work of all.

Space Shuttle Endeavor against the Sky

One of my fav pics: Space Shuttle Endeavor against the Sky. Credit: NASA

Back to my garden story. Now that I’ve cleared away the dead growth outside, I can thaw out  in my study and imagine the vibrant colors I expect to see out in the yard in a few short weeks. (And hopefully I’ll can expect a refund check too, if I get busy on my taxes.)

Spring tulip from my garden.

Spring tulip from my garden.

So, what about you?

Does something keep you from moving forward? What if something really amazing is just around the corner, but you can’t see through the debris in your life?

Get out your pruning clippers! Or better yet, let’s rev up the bulldozer!!

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Filed under culture, innovation, NASA

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