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E – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

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“What is a weed?  A plant whose virtues have not been discovered.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a New England preacher, essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and Transcendentalist poet.  The Transcendentalists shared a belief that each person could move beyond the physical world of the senses into a deeper spiritual experience through free will and intuition.  In his first book, “Nature”, Emerson expressed his belief that everything in our world – even a drop of dew – is a microcosm of the universe.


My favorite flower is a dandelion.  This time of year is wonderful for me as the dandelions open their lovely little faces and shine out yellow all across unsuspecting lawns.  I know plenty of people who curse the cheerful things.  Poison them and dig them out by their roots.

When my boys were small, I was graced with endless bouquets of dandelions.  The first bouquet of the year would go onto the dashboard of my car tucked snug up against the windshield.  There were many years when that dried and fluffy bouquet passed through the entire winter there.  If it was disturbed, dried bits of old dandelion would litter the front seat, blown crazy by the defroster.  I loved it.

A Real Mess

There are some weeds in the lawn of my life as well.  I’m not as fond of these.  Like the dandelion naysayers, I tug at them.  I curse them and try to stomp them down.  Like the dandelions, they inevitably pop back up.

My fear of failure is a particularly raggedy weed.  I have a whole rolling bramble of comparing myself to other people.  Needing everyone to like me has snaked all through the yard and put down roots that can really choke out the truth of who I am.

For years I fought these guys.  Sometimes, out of exasperation, I tried to ignore them in hopes they’d just go find another yard to cultivate.  But in the end, they always come back.  And ignoring them only makes them stronger and thicker.  It can be a real mess.

Revelation and Remembering

And then I got a revelation!  All of the things growing in my life hold meaning when I am brave enough to discover what it is.  And so, I decided to take a closer look.  To stay with my fear.  To look at it with curiosity and ask it what it needs from me. 

Sometimes it needs me to remember the time I was young and wrote some poems I was proud of and tried to share but was rejected.  It asks me to remember.  To honor that kid who tried to be brave but was heartbroken.  To show her kindness and validate her courage.  To release the hurt.

Other times, my self-consciousness reminds me that fitting into the greater picture requires me not to be just like everyone else, but to play my own unique part.  Instead of comparing myself to others, to remember that my gifts and skills are important.  That our lives are all more rich and beautiful when we bring ourselves wholly to the whole.


In this way, the weeds are becoming my teachers.  It is definitely taking me some time to learn to make friends with them.  After all, I’ve spent a lifetime thinking of them as weeds.  But the kinder I am with myself, the more I am able to see their virtues.  And the garden of my life is steadily growing into a bountiful one.

If you hate weeds or if you love dandelions, or if you’re in need of some kindness and courage from yourself, let’s be friends~

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