Ted Talks have changed the way we instigate & replenish passions around the world. No longer do you need a conference ticket, several hundred dollars and a day off work; simply peruse Ted's walk-in closet of all things motivational, educational and therapeutic. Basically pick your needed oomph for the day, and there's a Ted Talk for that. For those who need to be lifted in some way or another, they are virtual segments of saving grace.
However, one special member of Mother Nature's council, would like to have a word with us. Ted Talks apparently don't book dandelions, though.
So, allow me to pass along a rousing philosophy on creative integrity provided by our remarkable front yard guru.
Born into golden, sunny bodies dandelions brighten up fields, roadside prairies and sidewalk commutes. Their natural disposition seems to promise an inevitably bright future. They innately arouse imaginations and children eagerly collect them in yellow bundles, press the treasured flowers in their books, and lucky dandelions are carefully housed in tiny pockets for daily adventures. A dandelion was probably the very first flower you gifted a parent, grandmother or teacher.
But this beauty also has brains. Each part is useful: root, leaves and flower. Wellness personalities acclaim dandelions for their multitude of health benefits which include:
-More Vitamin A and C than carrots
-More iron than spinach
-Dandelion tea helps with liver functioning (hangovers), urinary tract infections, and digestion.
-Dandelion milk heals bee stings, acne, and removes warts.
-Levels blood sugar in diabetics
-Aids in weight loss
Also worth noting is dandelions make fabulous wine and if you are a gardener, you actually should WANT dandelions around because their incredibly deep roots (which have been measured as deep as 6-feet) can tap into minerals, nutrients and gases that other shallower roots aren't able to reach. They bring all that goodness to the surface and share the wealth with your other vegetation.
Once their life as a charming, colorful medic is over, the dandelion decides to turn a mid-life crisis into a mid-life meditation and turns in to get back to center with a self-induced transformation. Each dandelion is unique to how long this stage of rest lasts, but when it does choose to emerge, it embodies a completely new form. It doesn't even look like the same creation. It has figured out what it was designed to do, and recreated itself to fulfill that service.
But life is host to interesting paradoxes. While the dandelion intends to bestow us with its beauty and abundant health benefits, it, too, is regularly misread, underappreciated, and faced with the double-punch of judgment and rejection the same as us.
You see, once upon a time, royal palaces decided to tout the riches of their nation with not only towering castles and luxurious estates, but also with larger than life, lush green, perfectly manicured gardens.
And since the citizens of all these great royal communities wanted to appear just as important and dignified, the idea emulating this "perfect green lawn" on a smaller scale was born.
Fast-forward a couple centuries and we are still propelling the cycle of this engrained "royal wannabe mentality" with the perfect green yard deal. (A not so fun fact: Every year millions of dollars are spent on pesticides to have uniform lawns of non-native grasses, and we use 30% of the country's water supply to keep them green. A little 21st century yard creativity could help more than the dandelion out.)
Nonetheless, the dandelion perseveres, fully realizing it is up against an identity crisis crowd. It is deeply misunderstood and constantly held in a state of vulnerability, but that hasn't stopped it from persistently owning its role and standing unapologetically tall in what it was born to be. A dandelion knows we call it a "weed" even though it is scientifically classified as a flowering plant. A jab the equivalent of calling a piece of your creative work "junk mail", "trash TV", or "garbage".
The ironic thing is, it's one of the most creatively productive and self-sufficient flowers we have in our existence. No one can accuse the dandelion of being needy or not pulling its weight in the creation game.
Here's the life parallel tie-in:
How many times do we intentionally stifle the very parts of ourselves that are the most useful, creative and productive because it doesn't fit in with the cultural cycle of "esteem" in our quest for the modern day hat tip. Even the most outgoing of passion pursuers can attest that the pressure to blend can bend us.
So, what is interesting is we have dubbed this dazzlingly engineered flower a nuisance "weed", instead of something prized. We don't say, "Oh look! There's one of those vitamin packed, miracle herb, growing first aid kits in our yard." It's interesting our mindsets don't look at a yard scattered with dandelions as a blessing or Mother Nature's nod to take care of ourselves.
Instead, we have sprays and garden tools specifically designed to rid our space of this dynamic creation. Not because it does anything to us, but because it interferes with our "crucial" perfection persona.
The promising news is just as the dandelion doesn't entertain our ignorance, we don't have to react to our critics either. We can support one another in embracing our own specific flairs as the new "normal". All those perplex treasures we are capable of adding to the world are just a declaration away. A matter of fact, the dandelion has loads of support to keep it sustained. It's actually comprised of hundreds of tiny flowers in one. Botanists have found up to 250 florets in each dandelion. Consider each person apart of your various circles as one of these florets, backing you with encouragement every time the naysayers throw shade your way.
And perhaps the most touching message the dandelion offers us is how it anonymously gives away its very life. Slowly, but surely, it begins to bestow its valuable seedlings containing all that talent and wisdom to assure its numerous benefits continue long after it is gone. Often times doing this as it simultaneously inspires us to take our own leap of faith and send an optimistic wish into the wind. It blindly gives pieces of its very soul away. It has no idea who is getting it...who it is helping...or who it is reaching. A dandelion never knows where its new life will take hold.
There is no round of applause, "like" button, comment reel, 5-star rating, or a bestseller list for it to know its precious parcels were dispersed to the "right" place or to receptive counterparts. It has no target market in mind. It has no marketing analysis. It gives all logistics over to the wind. The wind is its marketing department. The dandelion surrenders in complete faith, knowing that the masterful wind will bring the right seeds to the right ground, at the right time.
It successfully fulfills its design with no projection or expectation whatsoever...just willingness and trust. That and a survivalist attitude like no other. Mower blade action may cut it down temporarily, but it will grow back stronger than ever.
Can you imagine how moving our work (and by "work" I mean art of the heart) would be if we pursued it with the free-to-the-wind spirit of a dandelion? Simmer on that.
And just when the last seed parachute has floated away and the life of the dandelion is over, it does a magical thing...
Remember those deep 6-foot roots it developed? They empower the dandelion to start the whole cycle over again. Yellow body and all. The giving of the seeds is apart of its journey to new life. It will always come back to give more. It was purposefully designed to be a professional giver of goodness.
Kind of like some humans it knows.
Kat Cowley is an author & Freestyle Creativity workshop creator. If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy a poem titled, "Words of the Wind" - inspired by the dandelion of course.