Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Nest and The Dandelion

“I am here for a purpose, and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink into a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply all my efforts to become the highest mountain of all, and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.” ~ Og Mandino

As bothersome as they might appear to some, dandelions are quite interesting little flowers. Aside from their indisputable medicinal value as a natural diuretic, they are also very fascinating to observe – after living a short life as pretty yellow blooms, they morph into curious-looking, fluffy puffs on green stems, so delicate and light that even the softest spring breeze will carry their spores and deposit their seed on new ground.

At first thought, their purpose seems fairly ordinary: they sprout, live and reproduce, and then they die. But if one looks a little closer, and, like me, is fortunate enough to stumble upon something unusual, the dandelion’s purpose suddenly appears a little more interesting and, if you will allow me, a lot more meaningful.

As I was trimming one of the bushes in front of my porch yesterday, I found an old bird nest from last year. I gently pulled it out of its leafy enclosure and laid it on the porch railing meaning to throw it out when I was finished. As I carried it, I noticed a couple of tiny pieces of egg shell, a few gray and brown feathers, and, of all things, a few dandelion spores carefully pushed between the small twigs as if to provide insulation. I initially thought that maybe they had been carried and deposited inside the nest by the wind, but upon closer inspection I realized they had been part of the original construction project.

As meaningless as that discovery might sound, I thought it was extremely touching. The dandelions whose spores were used by the birds were not aware of this unusual turn of events, and died peacefully after letting their seed go off with the wind; for the baby birds, however, the soft, downy spores could have been what kept them comfortable and warm in an unsuspecting partnership of nature. And of all the pretty flowers that could have fulfilled such an important task, dandelions took home the prize; nature’s most humble - and often unpopular - little flower had a greater purpose to live than it was ever aware of.

Humans are no different. We are born, live and die, and all along we try to live our purpose as we perceive it. Many of us get downhearted at times, as comparison with some of our more fortunate peer leaves us feeling as if we are wasting our lives. We look at the roses among us with a silent sigh, and admire their beauty, and their fragrance, thinking that no matter how hard we try we will never be as good as they are. Nobody will ever stop in awe, staring at our velvety blossoms, and some might even step on us, or ignore we exist.

Nobody knows the true potential and purpose beyond a humble, anonymous life, sometimes not even ourselves; and yet, our existence will make a difference. The thorns of a beautiful rose could not have helped baby birds stay warm and safe, but the unwanted spores of an ordinary dandelion surely ensured a few more voices would join the early morning song.