Monday, January 17, 2011

Hang In There: Tenacity is Buttercup's Lesson

The little yellow buttercup is one of those plants we never see in medicinal herbals; it's not a healing herb, it's not an edible. It's not even a cultivar, since its persistence in taking over a garden makes it one of those flowers generally hated by gardeners. But is it all that bad? In fact, it's not. One of buttercup's greatest teachable lessons is tenacity. We can learn a lot from a small, insignificant herb that has the strength and staying power to root its way across fields and gardens, through parking lots and cities, across meadows and farms--all the while blooming its cheery, bright blossoms.

Working on a project? In the middle of a crazy commitment, perhaps wondering if you can complete it? Responsible for something difficult? Scared? Many plants have the silent ability to teach us lessons, and the buttercup is no exception: it teaches the lesson of perseverance. Of never giving up. The creeping buttercup is referred to in some dictionaries as an "opportunitistic colonizer" or in other words, a very successful weed. Take a clue from this flower and mark your opportunities. Claim your space. Branch out, roots and all, toward what will make you whole, happy and successful. Weeds across the world are those very plants that have struck out on their own and multiplied so veraciously that they are not only known and recognized wherever they go, they are also among the most vigorous and healthy plants in any given area. Unwilling to say no, unable to be driven off, weeds (and buttercups in particular) are hardy, flexible, bending, changing, stretching, reaching, twisting, climbing. In short, they do what it takes to survive.

And sometimes they survive in a harsh atmosphere. Doing so requires they adapt in peculiar ways. The buttercup, for example, is not only inedible--it's actually toxic, especially to cattle and sheep that may graze it in the pastures. It displays its toxicity with a foul taste that warns cattle to leave it alone--and they do. As a result, buttercup lives. It's this tenacity--this going the extra mile to ensure its survival--that enables buttercups to thrive...and it's this lesson from the plant world that can inspire humans to dig down, recognize your strengths and your unique abilities, and to survive. Not only to survive, but to flourish, especially in the face of difficult times.

I'd always hated this little weed when I gardened, ripping it out mercilessly and following the long skinny roots to their source in an attempt to eradicate it. But it was always futile; the cheerful yellow flowers would pop up again. The buttercup lived. I look back on those gardening days a little wistfully now, thankful that I had the opportunity to experience the tenacity of buttercup, recognizing its beauty now and appreciating the fact that it, like all the other herbs I love, has a lesson to teach me. Perseverance. Overcoming obstacles. Becoming an "opportunistic" and successful being. Flourishing in whatever endeavor I decide to pursue. We can all be so successful!


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