Ever since I was a little girl, I have been a sucker for artificial grass. (Clearly it didn’t take much to thrill me!) I was mesmerized by it—so green and life-like! I called it “inside-outside grass,” and I wanted it everywhere, both in and outside of my childhood home. Thankfully, my parents politely declined my decorating ideas, but even to this day I wouldn’t mind replacing the carpet with a perfectly manicured fake lawn. You get the feel of being outdoors while literally sitting inside. This is so enticing to me, maybe because I love summer days spent barefoot in the yard; but work, weather, bugs, and landscaping don’t always enhance the experience. So whenever it’s not possible to be outside, “inside-outside grass” could help connect me to the experience of being outside.
Over the past several years, I have spent a great deal of time being on the “inside”—embraced tightly in both my work and social environments. Painfully, I’ve also found myself on the “outside,” losing friendships, a job I loved, and an environment I had felt settled in. Being outside was challenging, to say the least, but it sent me on an epic personal journey that often led me to think about the inside-outside grass.
What I’ve found is that, ultimately, I get to decide what’s considered inside and outside.
What I loved about that grass is what I’m working to cultivate within my own sense of self: Regardless of the environment, I can carry and constantly have access to the comfort and beauty that makes me feel at home.
Someone can tell me I’m on the outside—or the inside!—but I can be so at home with myself that it doesn’t actually matter. There may be bugs and rain outside, or dirty dishes and baskets of laundry inside, but when I’ve sunk into my own sense of self, I can experience peace and belonging in any environment.
This sense of grounding in my own self doesn’t remove the longing to belong within a larger environment, but it certainly changes my perspective in regards to what I see and feel in whatever context I might currently find myself.
I often think of God’s words to Adam and Eve: “Who told you that you were naked?” And I wonder to myself, “Who told me that I was an outsider?” Who gets to label me as such?
It feels powerful to see and trust the beauty and familiar comfort that is both in and for me, and to stand firmly on it wherever I go, like a bright and perfectly manicured lawn. With that connection to my own self, it doesn’t really matter if I’m in or out—I can find comfort and joy, inside or outside.
Mallory Redmond embraces anomalies—she is an adventure-loving homebody who keeps a clean house yet always makes a mess while eating or brushing her teeth. She loves dry humor, clean sheets, and gathering around the table with friends. Mallory and her husband, Darren, live in Ohio with their beagle, Roger, and their two daughters. You can follow her writing here, where her stories are told with the hope of further uncovering the places of connection in our humanity.