For most gardeners and lawn owners, dandelions are the bane of their existence. With deep tap roots and efficiently far-reaching seeding, dandelions can be almost impossible to get rid of. I’ve seen homeowners who turn into weed hunting maniacs if one crops up on their perfectly manicured lawns. God forbid a rough wind spreads the wispy seedlings throughout the grass. The effort it takes to uproot a fully formed dandelion is gargantuan. I can’t help but think that dandelions are life. How often have we worked so hard to appear perfect on our Better Homes & Gardens outside only to have one of our deeply rooted dandelion traits pop up overnight? Sometimes, even worse than dandelion traits, we have methodically, obsessively curated the perfect life – the right neighborhood, schools for the kids, church, social groups, profession, and vehicle only to start discovering dandelion incursions all over our previously perfect life. These dandelion infections are enough to make a girl sick! They are frustrating, annoying, disruptive and persistent.
But, what if we stopped getting frustrated by them; stopped trying to uproot them? What if we instead changed out attitude? Could they actually be beautiful pieces of ourselves which we perceive as imperfections, but which really add some much-needed pop of color to the monotony of our green lives? Maybe they are wonderfully beautiful detours which, although unplanned, are no less lovely. Perhaps they are an opportunity to dig deep within ourselves to right some wrong instead of mowing over them. More importantly, I think, might be the chance to give ourselves permission to not feel guilty about our imperfect lives.
I don’t know about you but, my life is not perfectly manicured. In fact, its littered with unexpected troubles, aggravating interactions, blindingly frustrating circumstances, and rather than having a life lawn with a single dandelion distraction; my life is more dandelion than fescue. Surveying the backyard this week I marveled at the fact that although my son had mowed the lawn just the day before, newly sprouted dandelions reached several inches above the freshly cut grass. At first I was aggravated; I had been inspecting the patches where the lawn was worn thin or trampled down to the dirt and thinking about how to fill them in quickly; instead, I was confronted by a veritable army of “weeds.” To add insult to injury, they didn’t even attempt to grow in the areas which sorely needed ground cover, but in the midst of perfectly healthy regions! As quickly as the thoughts flashed through my mind, I was suddenly enveloped by the welcome flush of a smile accompanied by a sweet memory. As a little girl, I would search for dandelions. They were, after all, the most abundant flowers in the neighborhood and fair game for picking in our apartment complex. Noone had spent hours toiling over their growth, and if I plucked a bucketful, mom would be thrilled with the bouquet and put it in a place of honor on our tiny kitchen table. My own little girl had already brought me five or six dozen bouquets since spring had sprung. Each lovingly arranged bundle with bright yellow dandelions, delicate pink ladies fingers, tiny purple, and white wild pansies, periwinkle speedwell, purple deadnettle, and a few long talks of shepherd’s purse thrown in like baby’s breath.
Maybe I was looking at dandelion’s all wrong.
Suddenly I was struck with the ridiculous thought that I should be looking for dandelions. My mother had always told me if you look for flowers, you’ll find them; and, if you look for weeds, you’ll find those too. What you see depends on what you search for AND how happy you are with what you find depends on how you perceive it. I don’t think contentment comes from always having things go your way. I’d say contentment comes more from your attitude about the curveballs life throws at you. Are they “happy little accidents” like in Bob Ross’s painting world or something negative? So, maybe life’s dandelions aren’t so terrible; I do kind of like the bright spots of yellow blanketing the lawn.