Do You See Flowers or Weeds?

What we see depends mainly on what we look for (Drawing by Diane Mottl)When I was a wee-one dressed in my Sunday best, I offered my Mom a bouquet of hand-picked pretty yellow flowers. At least, that is what I saw. My Mom saw something different in my chubby outstretched hands. Lucky for me, she focused on the joyful intent of the giver and not on the dandelion juice dripping down and staining the dress she had just spent hours sewing.

Yes, that bouquet I had so lovingly picked was a common weed. The scourge of lawns everywhere. The lowly dandelion. To a child: beauty, magic and fun. To an adult: pesky weed that must be destroyed before it spreads and causes havoc (or if one loses the battle, be turned into dandelion wine to drown one’s sorrows).

The same dandelion, different perspectives. Isn’t it interesting how what we each see can be so different? Not just with dandelions, but with everything we see, hear, touch, smell and taste. Information goes in, is circulated and shaped by our emotions, moods, memories, and beliefs, then our brain spits out thoughts which are so easily misconstrued as fact.

“There are no facts, only interpretations.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

In the spring, when I see an abandoned lot speckled in yellow, I can smile at how cheerful and bright dandelions look after a long winter of grey and white. But when they invade my own lawn, my brains switches and I see a weed that needs to have its offending yellow head snapped off and be doused in weed killer. And when they turn into white balls of fluff? I can see either the beginnings of a gazillion more dandelions ready to invade my manicured lawn, or a child making a wish, blowing, and watching the magic spread.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” — Anaïs Nin

Every moment of every day, I am making choices about what I focus on. What thoughts do I allow to take residence in my head and which ones do I shoo away? Do I see the weeds in my life? Or do I see flowers? Do I use my thoughts to transform, to find beauty and hope? Or am I so caught up in living a manicured life, that I see the threat of weeds everywhere?

“Be careful how you interpret the world: it is like that.” — Erich Heller

Today, I am choosing to remember what it was like to see a pretty yellow flower when I looked at a dandelion. I am choosing to follow in my Mom’s footsteps in order to see the joyful innocence in those chubby outstretched hands, rather than dandelion stains. Today, I will quiet my mind and open my heart, so I can breathe through the whirl of thoughts in my head and find a peaceful place. A place where I see the beauty in everything around me, in me, and in others.

“Look at everything as though you are seeing it either for the first or last time, then your time on earth will be filled with glory” — Betty Smith

“What happens is of little significance compared with the stories we tell ourselves about what happens. Events matter little, only stories of events affect us.” — Rabih Alameddine

“In this treacherous world nothing is the truth nor a lie. Everything depends on the color of the crystal through which one sees it” — Pedro Calderón de la Barca

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” — Abraham Maslow

“Child, you have to learn to see things in the right proportions. Learn to see great things great and small things small.” — Corrie Ten Boom

6 Responses to “Do You See Flowers or Weeds?”

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  1. says:

    It’s really all about perspective in life. It’s interesting how you see the beauty in dandelions when not in your yard, but see weeds when in your yard. I was trying to think of other examples of when this happens – beauty sometimes, weeds other times. It kind of reminds of the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side.”

    • I agree that it is about our perspective: do we focus on what is not working (“weeds”) or on what is (“flowers”)? It comes down to “flipping the switch”, as you said in your post “What Is Your Approach To Life”.

  2. says:

    Once again your drawing captivates me … oh yes many a bouquet of weeds has thrilled a mother’s heart. I too smile when I see a sea of yellow face, but not so happy on the lawn!
    Thanks Diane
    Jocelyn

  3. Loreen Graw says:

    I have ALWAYS admired your mom….as a mom herself (when I got older) but also as a child. I don’t know if I have ever related this story to you. When I was in grade 6 your mom, (for other readers of this comment Diane’s mom is my sister), was my substitute teacher for a few days. I was so confused…do I call her Mrs Roski (I can’t remember if your mom and dad still used the full sir name at this time or not) or do I call her Bernice! I don’t think I ever figured out what to do! I believe I just didn’t use any name for those few days.

    • No, I never knew my Mom (your sister) was your substitute teacher for a few days. That would be a tad confusing, wouldn’t it!! Mom was my substitute teacher for a day in grade one. I remember beaming all day, being so proud when my classmates looked at me in awe (we idolized our teachers at that age). As I got older, I remember giving out Halloween candy and the kids getting so excited when they realized they were at their teacher’s house. Mom touched a lot of lives before MS stopped her teaching career.