After I blogged about (metaphorical) weeds potentially choking out the more desirable things of life, more thoughts arrived, as they are wont to do. For instance: What is a weed?
Broadly speaking, anything I don't want growing in my garden is a weed. But why is it that we plant daisies on purpose but not their cousins the dandelions? What characteristic does clover have that makes it a nuisance rather than a welcome friend?
|Some folks see these and race for the weed killer.|
I see them and rejoice, especially when the bees are at
work around them. Source: Andre vd Meulen
Context plays a role, of course. My parents' house is surrounded by farmland, so my mother can't grow morning glories, which are aggressive and will attatch to anything taller than themselves, like handy stalks of corn. They're a nuisance to farmers not only because of potential lost crops, but also because their vines will wrap around equipment during harvest and cause breakages. Morning glories are gorgeous and wonderful in the city or in the forest. In farmlands, they're destructive.
By the same token, a good thing in my life may be a weed in yours, and vice versa. I guess the problems really begin when we look round at other people's gardens and see them proudly cultivating their weeds. "Why would anyone want to grow that?" I wonder, or worse, "They let the weeds overrun their flowers," when in fact said weeds are the flowers, and I just can't see it. And from there it's only a short step to seeing the presence of weeds as the presence of a moral failing and the absence of virtue.
This plays out quite literally in places where some folks are, shall we say, zealously devoted to the care and maintenance of their grass while the neighbours are, shall we say, less devoted. And so the dandelion seeds float from one lawn to another, while one resident is oblivious and another is indignant. I'm convinced this is why HOAs happened. For some folks, it was surely either that or start a dandelion war.
But in our lives the weeds and flowers are less literal and the misunderstandings that arise even more fraught. No one wants anything they've spent time and careful attention on--be it a school accomplishment, or a work project, or a new skill, or a creative endeavour--to be treated like a weed. And I hope no one wants to be the person who treats others' precious flowers with such disregard. (Please keep that in mind the next time you're tempted to ask, "What are you going to do with that??" of your college-aged relatives.) But it happens to the best of us from time to time, and flowers get trampled and hearts get bruised.
What to do? Apologize, with all sincerity. Forgive (even though it takes time). Learn from the mistake and use that new knowledge to see with different eyes. Stretch the definition of a flower and shrink the definition of a weed, and see where that takes you.
Cultivating great things in my own life is important, but to recognize it in someone else's life is beautiful.