Why dandelions?

To me, dandelions remind me of the beauty, determination, and strength of nature. Have you ever walked down a street and noticed a small bump in the tarmac each day you walk past that bump, and it seems to get slightly bigger? You probably don’t even see the slight growing bulge as you walk by.

Then one day, you notice a small delicate flower has popped up. It has pushed its way through the tarmac. Finally, its bright yellow flower and gloriously green leaves reach the sun, surrounded by a desert of tarmac. I imagine it shouting out, “Hello world. I’m here!”

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Dandelions and nature, in general, remind me of several of the things we need to manage our wellbeing effectively. It’s also helpful to remember that nature won’t be rushed, and maybe we don’t have to rush to our destination and miss the journey in the process. Life, after all, is about the journey, not the destination.

In my example, we can see that the dandelion is nothing if determined. Despite the best effort of the tarmac, the hardcore underneath, the trampling feet above, it is determined to push through and reach the surface. So sometimes, we, too, need to be determined to keep trying and not give up.

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It has also shown resilience. It didn’t give up. Through grit and determination, it kept on growing. It could have given up. It could have thought, what’s the point? But it didn’t. It had life, and it fought to grow for the chance to flourish and thrive. Again, this is something we have to do. At times of struggle, we must dig deep, get back up when we fall, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. But as long as there is life, there is hope; And if there is hope, there is growth.

The dandelion, and nature in general, also reminds us that life is a marathon, not a sprint. When you watch things grow, you will notice you don’t see much. Growth occurs through consistent small, slow steps. Nature doesn’t rush, it can’t be rushed, but it gets everything done.

We can use each of our senses to connect to our natural world. We will always be able to feel the wind, sun or rain on us. We will always be able to look at the natural beauty of our world. We can smell the flowers, the freshly cut grass or the smell of rain. We can hear birds, leaves or the wind. We can taste the air (for example, the salt in the air by the beach) or eat the natural bounties of nature. No matter what has happened in the past or might happen in the future, we can use nature and our senses to ground us in the here and now.

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Nature often works in symbiotic ways. Some well-known examples are birds eating the seeds of trees and dispersing them through their dropping. Bee’s gather nectar from plants while pollinating the flowers. We ourselves have microorganisms that aid digestion and live of the food we eat. Mutually beneficial relationships are common in nature, and their impact is vast.

My dandelion provides insects with food and shelter, and in turn, they pollinate its flowers. Our world, survival, and wellbeing depend on our connectedness with each other and nature. Being mindful of nature can help you remember this interconnectivity and how our actions impact others and vice versa. Remember the saying if you want to travel fast, go alone. If you’re going to travel far, go together.

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Nature can also be a powerful way to tap into our emotions. We can feel alive in story weather or peaceful and relaxed on a warm sunny day. We can appreciate the beauty of nature and be appreciative and grateful for the opportunities we create to pause, slow down and notice our natural world and the wonders it contains.

Protecting nature, valuing it and wanting to preserve it can also give us a sense of meaning and compassion. We can reduce our carbon footprint, recycle, and not be wasteful in our consumption of natural resources. 

Take time to pause and reflect on nature. Reflect on how something so unique and beautiful is fragile and how our survival depends on preserving, valuing, and appreciating our natural world.

Returning finally to dandelions, there is one final reason I love Dandelions. To illustrate the importance and power of acceptance Marsha Linehan, (the founder of DBT [Dialectical Behaviour Therapy]) tells a story about a man’s struggle to rid his lawn of dandelions.

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In the story, a man determined to have a perfect lawn, free from dandelions, tries everything he can to rid his garden of these persistent weeds. After many years’ struggle, however, after asking all the experts he can, he is finally given the only advice that will help him in his predicament: to learn to love dandelions.

Occasionally, we have to accept those things that cause us distress. Indeed, sometimes that’s the only path that stops them from hurting us.

Unlike the man in Marsha Linehan’s story, I love dandelions. I have explained how amazing I find it is to walk along a pavement and see a bulge in the tarmac that gently grows until a Dandelion breaks the surface. To me, dandelions represent the power of life over adversity.

We can use my love of dandelions to illustrate one final point; we can see the same things in different ways. The man in the story tried to eradicate his dandelions but had to learn to accept them. I wouldn’t have to struggle with that, but I have challenges of my own. All of us are different, and all of us have our own unique problems and struggles that might not be so challenging to others. Being aware of this can also help us be less judgemental when others are struggling and too ourselves.

Finally, as you apply the story of the dandelion, keep in mind that the difference between an inspirational flower and a frustrating weed is simply one of perspective. Your struggles are not invalid because others do not share them, and vice versa.