Why Can’t Weeds Be Flowers?

 

Looking at life through the eyes of a child, I’ve learned to see the possibility and joy in the small, everyday things.  To search for the magic.  To believe in the magic.  It’s only as we grow older that innocent wonder abandons us.  Or do we abandon the wonder?

I remember my daughter running to me on stubby little legs with a fistful of dandelions.   Her wide smile split her face and pride glimmered in her eyes when she handed me those beautiful flowers.  To me, they were weeds.  To her, a glorious find.   Since I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she’d just handed me a bunch of weeds, I thanked her and put them in a bud vase on the kitchen counter.

But something strange happened.  Every time I washed my dishes or felt the urge to gripe about cleaning the counters, those weeds stopped me cold.  Stored forever in my mind will be my daughter’s smile.  Granted, they weren’t long-stemmed red roses, but they were picked with love and devotion, and that simple act and those simple weeds taught me much about life.

When I told my son years later that dandelions and buttercups and milkweed are just weeds, he looked confused.  He asked my, “Why?” I’m sure I could have googled a bunch of scientific reasoning to back up my words, but, in the end, I ended up disagreeing with my own words. 

I think it’s an important lesson for readers and writers.  We’re meant to turn something average into something extraordinary.  Straw into gold.  Coal into diamonds.  A grain of sand into a pearl.  It’s part of the mystery of life and love and wonder. 

Turning something average into something extraordinary makes me think of my friend Erica O’Rourke’s debut novel Torn, out this month with Kensington.  In it, Mo—quiet, ordinary, unmagical Mo—will have to enter a world of raw magic to avenge her best friend’s murder and to save the world.  Not bad for an ordinary high school girl.  Oh, but the story.  The characters!  I can’t say enough great things about this new young adult book, which won RWA’s Golden Heart in 2010. 

So, what books or movies have captivated you and made you appreciate the average or sometimes overlooked?  Forrest Gump definitely springs to mind.  You can’t get much more average than Forrest…Forrest Gump. 

If you can’t think of a movie or book that takes the average and makes it extraordinary, what about the small, overlooked things that bring a smile to your day?  Like my flowers.  My dandelions.  Because one woman’s weed is another woman’s flower.  I learned that much, at least.  Another thing I learned while researching flowers and weeds is that it truly all depends on WHERE it’s located.  Dandelions on the side of the road are beautiful.  Dandelions in a perfectly manicured front lawn?  Not so much. 

The moral of Kim’s rambling blog today? Plant your ideas—whether they’re found in books or a worldview—in the right places so that others can fully appreciate them!