Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

The Joy of Wildflowers

Long, long ago, to participate in a state high school TV announcing contest, I performed a satire called “How to Be Glamorous” and bestowed the title of Miss Dandelion on myself as an over-the-top Marilyn Monroe wannabe. (I think I won for my daring.) I’ve always admired wildflowers—even the ones cursed as weeds. After our recent rains, I’m gleefully celebrating mountain spring as I step over tiny blossoms of white, pink, yellow, and purple. Like my satire, wildflowers are unpretentious and flamboyant. They don’t demand custom fertilizer or grow lights or artsy pots. They rise out of snow and take advantage of any convenient sidewalk crack or bit of sunny field, asking nothing more than a chance to bloom.

Interestingly, many wildflowers quickly die when they’re forced to come indoors. Wildflowers remind us that we aren’t really in charge of all life on earth. To command obedience from wildflowers, we have to change them, to make them in some ways artificial. As with the wild beasts, we don’t completely understand the web of macro and quantum existence that sustains them and, in turn, sustains us. We like to pretend we’re in comfortable control. We aren’t.

Recently, my husband and I rented the film GREENLAND from Netflix. The crux of the story begins with a fragmented comet that plummets toward Earth. No one knows precisely where the pieces will land or when, but en masse they bring destruction on a global scale. Suddenly, human society is playing the part of the dinosaurs, waiting to be extinct. Impressively, in the film, world governments have anticipated the catastrophe and set up huge bunkers to preserve humankind. The trick, of course, is to be among the people selected to be saved. The story isn’t entirely new, although it’s still nerve-wracking. We recognize the conflicts and, perhaps this time, we recognize the reality of human vulnerability.

When we dig up remnants of ancient civilizations for whom we don’t even have names, much less histories, we try not to think about what might have erased such advanced cultures. We know there are many possibilities, but surely they belong in the distant past. Disaster films of earthquakes, super-volcanoes, sudden ice ages, alien invasions, or titanic floods are strictly entertainment…aren’t they? We have more immediate concerns to divide us. We’re busy fussing over skin colors and religious doctrines and regional identities. The fabulously rich and influential assume their power extends over nature. They feel they live above the petty grievances of nations or workers they manipulate. But they can’t stop a single fragmented comet, and maybe they couldn’t survive the aftermath of a strike, either.

The lesson of the wildflowers is simply to be, to enjoy all the variety nature can provide, to live with as much laughter, love, honesty, and appreciation as we can muster. We will face an end—individually and maybe collectively as a species. When the world is transformed by one of our potential change agents, what will we have accomplished? What was important about our living? Wouldn’t the greatest triumph be sucking dry the joy of simply being citizens of Earth together before we’re gone?

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