The spirit of dandelions

When I was in elementary school, we spent time each day outside. Even in the winter, part of our lunch time was spent outside so we could run around before eating lunch. This concept of recess will be revisited by me later this month, but for now, I recall going outside with classmates and picking bunches and bunches of dandelions to give to our teacher. At home, I would do the same thing for my mother. I didn’t understand that dandelions were weeds. They were bright yellow flowers to me. And who doesn’t like to get flowers?

My father never waged war against dandelions. They went away after he mowed the lawn after all. He never seemed to mind then. The weeds/flowers were harmless enough and so I never quite understood the ire of almost every other male I’ve ever met when it comes to dandelions. They’re a bright pop of yellow on a green lawn. Where’s the harm?

Dandelions = smiles

What makes something a weed and something a flower? I am sure there are logical explanations from botanists. In my limited knowledge, I understand that weeds tend to be labeled “invasive” because they take over whatever plot of land they sink their roots into, crowded out other types of plant life and at times being dangerous causing things like rashes and allergic reactions. But it does make me thing: What if I change my perspective? What if I viewed a weed as a flower? What if dandelions were pretty yellow bursts across the lawn rather than labeled as “ugly” and annoying? I had this view once and you know what? When you’re 4-years old picking dandelions is kinda fun. In fact it can be a lot of fun. What would happen if I owned this particular view again? What if I changed the way I looked at things? What kind of fun, easy, relaxed, exiting feelings would open for me?

I was reminded of all of this from toddler Cassie this weekend. Hitch and I took a drive out to Canandaigua Lake for some open water swim practice meeting up with our friend Mary. While we swam, Mary’s husband, Greg, played with their daughter Cassie. Upon our return to land, Cassie presented us all with dandelions she had picked for us. I smiled. Cassie didn’t just give me a flower. She gave me the gift of revisiting my perspectives, of letting go of my thoughts and analysis and striving in exchange for smiles, joy and acting naturally in the moment. My dandelion didn’t fare so well on the trip back to Buffalo. But the spirit of the dandelion, well, that’s still alive and well.

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