I have a love-hate relationship with dandelions.
I love them when they first appear in early spring. Their little yellow faces peeking out from every available patch of green make me smile with delight in the return of Spring and color to the Earth. Their tenacity and fierce determination to thrive under any and every possible condition encourages me.
There is something so amazing about a common weed that can be found everywhere that is both delicious to eat and incredibly good for me! If our lawns weren’t so contaminated with chemicals, I’d have an abundance of healthy food for weeks.
And then they go to seed … and I remember why I hate them.
My yard suddenly looks like an abandoned lot within hours after I mow it, as the blooms morph from cheerful yellow smiley faces to angry white mushroom clouds sending out their spores far and wide. This transformation always seems to happen overnight and catch me completely unaware.
Suddenly I find myself out stomping about the yard trying to dig up each one of them (root and all) only to notice that they have now also taken over my flower beds, the cracks in the flagstone patio, the patches of groundcover, and even the stone covered walkways. I become like an avenging angel of death in my attempt to get every last one of them, even as I know it’s a battle that is doomed to failure before I even start.
The abundance of rain the last few days is making it a bit easier than normal to get even the roots of each of these weeds as I pull them up. This makes the whole process a bit less painful than it is some years.
However, as I’ve gone about my attack on the dandelions this year, it’s prompting me to ponder the fact that so often in life the very thing we may admire about someone or something (the tenacity of dandelions) is the very same thing that later grates on our nerves about that same someone or something (they are taking over my flower beds).
I know I am guilty of forgetting the benefit of a given attribute (that was often the initial attraction) once I become aware of the shadow side of that attribute. I want the benefit without the cost, but life doesn’t work that way. Everyone and everything has its bright side and its shadow, and these are inextricably connected because the light and the shadow are so often the very same thing.
I think it may be worth taking a moment to make sure I see both the light and the shadow in any trait I notice in myself and others for a bit. It may help me to be a bit less impatient with the shadow sides I encounter.
After all, even dandelions have their bright yellow faces and their healthy, delicious greens. If I can find a bright side there, surely I can find it in myself and in others too.