I love dandelions. You need to know that to understand this story. I don’t see them as the pesky weeds many people do. I see them as these tiny gifts from the universe scattered all around in spring, summer, and early fall.
They symbolize resiliency to me, surviving despite the efforts of many to destroy them. They remind me of the beauty in the common, help me to see the extraordinary in the ordinary, and call my attention to the beloved wildness in all of us. After more than 40 years on this earth, I still smile when I see them. I am still grateful for each one.
A few weeks ago I took a break from the work in my office and headed outside for a quick walk. My office is located on a beautiful street lined with trees on top of a hill, which makes the sky seem close enough to touch if you stand on your tippy toes.
However, on this day I didn’t notice any of that. I was supposed to be taking a break, but actually I was still in my head figuring things out for work, wondering about this and that, solving problems (or perhaps creating them).
When I reached the place where I turn around to go back, I realized I had been completely absent for the entire walk. I hadn’t noticed a thing around me. I had been checked out for the whole experience. “I’m getting out of my head for the rest of this walk,” I decided. Otherwise what was the point of taking a break? There was plenty of time back at my office for solving problems if that’s what was needed. But for right now I wanted to be fully present in this moment, on this walk, in this experience.
On the way back I noticed the scent of freshly blooming trees and the soft chirping of the birds perched in those trees. I felt the warmth of the sunshine on my skin and took long deep breaths into my belly.
And then I saw it, an entire hillside covered in puffy dandelions, thousands of them, glittering in the sunshine. I was reminded of one of my favorite poets, William Wordsworth, when he wrote, “My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky.” This display of dandelions was my rainbow. My heart fluttered as a feasted on the sight of those fuzzy flowers. “How did I miss this?” I questioned, perplexed. I had walked by this splendor only minutes again and had no idea it was right in front of me.
How many tiny gifts do we miss in this life while trapped in our own heads? How often are we simply absent from our own lives? I know there are problems to solve, important things to think about, and situations to work out. Can we not just set aside time for all the figuring out that must be done and allow ourselves to enjoy the moment we are experiencing in the meantime?
Maybe our lives are more than puzzles to be solved. Maybe our lives are more about moments to be experienced, to be felt, to be enjoyed. What if we lived more awake and fully present to what is around us, what is in us? What if we crawled out of our heads more often and into this present moment?
Once I saw that hillside full of fluffy flowers, I paused to admire them. I pictured myself as a child, plucking them from the ground and blowing their seeds into the wind while wishing for something exciting and wonderful to happen. However, that day I just wanted to stand still in their presence for a moment. I just wanted to notice them. I just wanted to pay attention, to soak in their beauty, their resiliency, their wildness and be reminded of my own.
I just wanted to feel gratitude to God, to the universe for opening my eyes, for waking me up, for placing dandelions on my path to remind me of what’s truly important. I just wanted to feel myself planted squarely in the moment I was in.
Thich Nhat Hahn says, “To live in the present moment is a miracle.” I just wanted to experience, really experience the tiny miracles all around me.