Sunday, November 15, 2015

Pep Talk: "Prune It Back!"

From your scribe’s vantage point, all that was seen was the back of the man’s head. It would have been priceless to see the expression on Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s face when he muttered, “Our fiscal thicket has many brambles on many branches.”

The leader of the Centennial State was addressing the state’s Joint Budget Committee in a large and packed meeting room (I was in attendance) at the state capitol. The popular chief executive, along with state budget director Henry Sobanet, were answering questions from lawmakers about a 2016-17 budget that calls for a $373-million dollar shortfall and the craziness of issuing refunds while cutting funding to critical state services like education and transportation. Thus the governor’s truthful barb about a “fiscal thicket with many brambles on many branches.”

As a long-time lover of words (I blame Scrabble during childhood years) I scrambled for my torn and tattered Oxford American dictionary to gain clarity to exactly what “thicket” means. “A number of shrubs and small trees growing close together.” Then the mind wondered about the meaning of “bramble” and discovered its definition of “a rough shrub with long prickly shoots.”

The state of Colorado takes great pride in being innovative. Many states look to our state as leaders in thinking outside the box. Heck, we were the first to legalize marijuana, led the way on stringent industry regulations for carbon extraction, background checks and magazine limits for firearm purchases, and many other policies that offer hope common sense can prevail in governance.

But the way we try to fund a state budget? It’s almost comical. Another fiscal wonk that I’ve gotten to know since jumping into the political world as a RISE UP with Mark candidate for House District Six likes to joke, “We’ve had TABOR on the books for 23 years and not ONE OTHER state has followed our lead.”

Colorado’s fiscal bush is overgrown, full of prickly shoots and needs pruning.

While certainly not an expert gardener, this aging jock loves to tend to a small group of rose bushes in our backyard. For the roses to vibrantly bloom it’s necessary to prune them. Without vigilance, bushes, trees and shrubs become thickets, with many brambles and become overgrown and weak. Whether in nature or under Colorado’s golden capitol dome, pruning is necessary for health and vibrancy.

What about our lives? Where might it be time to realize our relationships, careers and community involvement have become a thicket with many brambles on many branches? Where might pruning, to restore balance and discard prickly shoots, be a good idea?

In nature, pruning also promotes growth of other plants. Neglected trees and shrubs become overgrown, making it difficult for underneath or adjacent plants to thrive. When is it time to prune and remove the broken, diseased or dead branches of life that no longer serve us and those around us, mentally, physically or spiritually? Where’s the thicket with many brambles on many branches?

This week, prune it back!

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