I can pinpoint exactly when this silly war started. It didn't erupt until I became a homeowner, and more specifically, until we lived in our current home.
I'm talking about my war against the Dandelion.
Original Image by: OsTin (Creative Commons)
I don't recall seeing much of this, if at all, when I was still living in the Philippines. My awareness of it mostly came from books, pictures and movies or television shows and I've always just considered them pretty, like most other flowers. I've always thought dandelion-covered fields were cheery and evoked lightness or playfulness. If you had told me then that in the future these yellow flowers would cause me stress, I wouldn't have believed you at all.
But sadly, insanely, it has come to that. And I am ashamed and disappointed in myself.
Each spring and summer, when these 'plants' start to sprout on our lawn, I get annoyed. I ask my husband why our lawn seems to be so susceptible to them while some of our neighbors have perfectly green lawns. My husband is getting tired of explaining to me that our grass is most probably not as healthy as the others', or that our lawn gets a lot of sun. This would then be followed by a longer conversation on what we can do ourselves to make our lawn healthier,more attractive, greener. Whatever options we discuss—whether it be fertilizing, seeding, applying weed-killers, or watering more regularly— the bottom line is that we would have to spend a lot of money, even a ridiculous amount, if we opt to hire some big shot lawn care company to 'cure' our lawn and get it to the level we desire.
I think that's unnecessary. It's bad enough that I feel guilty about watering my lawn in the summer when I've read that California has one year of water left (and I hope non-Californians don't think they can just dismiss this and choose to forget the web of social reality that we are all a part of). It's when I realize all the insanity that the dandelion is causing me that I begin to ask the REAL questions:
What is so evil about the dandelion that I've chosen to wage a war against them?
Are they really weeds? Aren't they considered flowers too, and even herbs because they can be eaten as a salad and have medicinal purposes?
What's really at the root of my annoyance?
In the end, the age-old advice that 'it all boils down to perspective' holds true.
There's nothing evil about dandelions. They just inconvenience me because their presence on my lawn challenges my idea of the perfect suburban American lawn, an idea that I didn't use to subscribe to prior to being Americanized and indoctrinated into the pristine white picket fence life. Seeing them causes me anxiety because my lawn is so exposed to public view that I'm worried about how it looks to others in the neighborhood. If I factored that out—that fear of standing out, the fear of others' judgment—the fact is that I wouldn't be bothered so much and worry this way. I can choose to see them as pesky weeds, or I can see them as any normal vegetation, and even flowering plants that color my yard and make it a bit more cheery. I can definitely change my mind about them.
I'm not saying I will encourage their growth and let them take over my lawn. A few here and there is really nothing to stress about. We can focus on strengthening our grass, instead of stressing over the few pops of yellow that can be seen.
The point is, the dandelion is not doing anything to me. I am the one causing suffering unto myself because of how I choose to see things.
We all see a lot of 'dandelions' in our respective lives. It could be a slow driver in front of you, an intrusive relative, a rambunctious child. It could be anything that we have chosen to burden ourselves with because of how we continue to perceive it.
What 'dandelion' do you have today? What can you choose to see today as a flower instead of a weed?