Meditation on a Leaf Blower

The leaf blower picked away at my brain, slowly and surely, like a chisel. It was a Friday like any other Friday. I sat entrapped in my apartment as the beast circled below for hours. I turned up the volume on my noise-canceling headphones, but it was no good, the whir remained incessant in the background.

"I wish all the leaf blowers in the world would just vanish," I said aloud.

The noise stopped. The world was still and silent, blissfully at peace as never before. I went to the window and saw the landscape maintenance professional standing dumbfounded with nothing in his hands.

"No leaf blowers!" exclaimed a shrill voice behind me.

I twirled around to come face to nozzle with a tiny leaf blower sprite.

"I'm Leafy," it said, "the leaf blower sprite! I heard you wish away all leaf blowers, and decided I'd grant your wish."

Overcoming the shock, I got down on my hands and knees. I looked up reverently at the tiny sprite on the bookshelf. "Oh thank you, thank you," I said. "How can I ever repay you?"

Leafy wagged his nozzle disapprovingly. "You'll regret this. Leaf blowers are a vital part of modern life, and I've only granted your wish to show you how wrong it is."

My reverence for my seeming-benefactor evaporated. I stood and spoke face to nozzle again. "No one," I asserted, "could possibly invent a more useless device. It moves leaves from point A to point B so that the wind can redeposit them at point A for next week's repeat."

Leafy let out an angry blast of hot air and proportionately miniature leaves. I coughed and covered my face.

"Don't make me mad," Leafy implored. "You wouldn't like me when I'm mad."

I backed up and put my hands in the air apologetically.

"You're not so hot yourself, you know," he continued. "I've been watching you. You go from home to work and back again in the numb routine of your life, never deviating. You've never contributed anything of value to the world. You live in this ugly box of an apartment, indistinguishable from a thousand neighbors."

"Granted," I replied, for there was truth in Leafy's words which I could not deny. "But all I've ever asked of life is be allowed to sit here undisturbed in a comfortable silence and forget that there's a world out there."

"At the cost of the happiness of others?" he queried. "You're despicable. Leaf blowers bring hope to the lives of many thousands of illegal immigrant families, offering employment when all the other jobs are taken."

"Can't they become migrant farm labor instead? That's actually productive."

I ducked just in time to avoid the blast of air and leaves.

"Fine," he barked. "Try it out. You'll be crying for me within the hour."

Leafy vanished, and I was alone with my thoughts. The world was as silent as could be, free of distractions at last.

I picked up the sudoku puzzle which the noise had prevented me from finishing. After twenty minutes I set it down again, frowning, realizing it wasn't the noise that'd stopped me.

I sat down at the computer and tried to get some work done. I couldn't.

For all the peace outside, there was no peace in my mind. Random thoughts fluttered across my field of consciousness, defying my attempts to organize them. Slowly they began to organize along their own patterns. "What are you doing with your life?" one asked. "You really aren't any better than a leaf blower!" spat another. "Now what are you going to blame for your inability to think?" taunted a third.

The thoughts floated at me like leaves. I wanted nothing more than to blow them out of sight, even if they might find their way back another day.

"LEAFY!" I screamed. "You win. I surrender."

He reappeared with a triumphant smile, if you can imagine a leaf blower smiling. "What have you learned?" he prodded condescendingly.

"I've learned that there's nothing worse than having nothing to distract me from my thoughts," I conceded solemnly. "I've learned that unproductivity feels a lot worse when I don't have a distraction to blame it on."

"So what do you think of leaf blowers now?" he queried.

"They're the annoyance that makes life livable," I said. "They're the scapegoat that absolves us of our failings. The blessed distraction which keeps us from collapsing into ourselves. The leaf blower is our anchor to the world."

Leafy nodded. "Let there be leaf blowers again!" he exclaimed.

My world was filled with noise... deafening, wonderfully annoying noise.

I tried to thank Leafy for the new perspective he'd given me, and I think he tried to say something to me before he vanished into the netherworld of sprites, but we couldn't hear each other.