“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Selected Lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson …
Many of us tend to separate things into two categories: those things that are useful and have purpose, and those things that are worthless–the weeds. But purpose can be found in everything, if we look for it. As a boy, I used to take things apart and then put them back together again. Often times I would use parts of things to “enhance” other objects. Having this natural talent to find purpose in the some of the most basic parts of things has sheltered me (to an extent) from not being able to see value in things and from taking things for granted. Still, for those times when I catch myself doing so, I, too, have to make the conscious effort to reevaluate my perspectives and perceptions.
Around here, dandelions are one of the most common weeds we see growing in our yards. In addition to offering quite a contrast of colors to the mild green of most yards, they also tend to grow and spread with ease making them hard to eliminate and prevent. But some of us may actually find comfort in their presence, noting them as a sign of summer, or see great beauty in their simplicity and color. Still others may look even further and find many more uses of dandelions. A quick search online presented me with some of the less common: they are considered a tonic (tones the body), help reduce water weight gain, are a mild laxative, help to eliminate toxins from the blood, promote healthy digestion and will soothe an irritated stomach, they act as an anti-rheumatic, help support the liver and kidneys, keep the bowels in a healthy condition, stabilize blood sugar, reduce blood pressure, have shown anti-tumor properties, and clear the skin of impurities.
Each of us has many unique talents, virtues, and gifts within, but all-too-often society tries to limit our views of success and worth, which is wrong in so many ways. By restricting and limiting our perspectives, we are also limiting our potentials by focusing on our weaknesses and not our strengths. One of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein says it best, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
In life, nearly everything we have, find, or come across has a purpose and is useful. Things we dislike offer us insight into who we are and why we believe what we believe. And the people we dislike the most are often the ones who help us to see parts of ourselves that we would like to change. Even so, it often difficult for us to think about the things that irritate us–as most of the time we are only concerned with removing the weeds from our lives. However, if we take the time to consider things in a positive light, we may discover and learn new experiences and find just what healing and growth we need right now. And if we take the time to find out what our own strengths and virtues are, we will also discover our true potential; and in it, come to find that nearly all of life’s weeds have simply became flowers.
Take a moment to think of yourself as “a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” Then think about those around you in the same sense as well.
Questions to consider:
What kinds of things can keep us from seeing the strengths and potential of some of the things and people in our lives?
Think of something that you currently consider as useless, or as an inconvenience. What other aspects might that thing have that you have not yet considered?
Have you discovered your own most important uses yet?
For further thought:
“I have a very firm belief that the life of no man can be explained in terms of his experiences, of what has happened to him, because in spite of all the poetry, all the philosophy to the contrary, we are not really masters of our fate. We don’t really direct our lives unaided and unobstructed. Our being is subject to all the chances of life. There are so many things we are capable of, that we could be or do. The potentialities are so great that we never, any of us, are more than one-fourth fulfilled.” ~ Katherine Anne Porter, Katherine Anne Porter: Conversations