Being as resilient as a weed

Kim McKinney
Photo by Kim McKinney

A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.”:- Doug Larson
A weed is no more than a flower in disguise. Which is seen through at once, if love give a man eyes.” – James Russell Lowell

Some call it a weed. I call it a flower. I know people who do everything they can to get rid of them. I leave them alone and love seeing them spread. They make me smile. I would cultivate them if I could. Some would say I do. I find them beautiful and I like them in my yard. I know at least some of my neighbors hate them and panic at the first sight of them. I expect they think my yard is a disgrace. I mourn when lawnmowing takes those early spring flowers away.

Dandelions go from strong to fragile. But even when the petals turn to fluff, that stem is tough. You can pull it out, but chances are it will come back. Oh yes, chemicals can kill it. Throw enough on it, and it will be gone.

It's kind of like people. I find my heart isn’t usually captured by the “perfect”. Oh, I appreciate their beauty and brilliance, but I find it is often something I can best appreciate from a distance. Much character comes from struggling a bit. Or a lot.

I love the dandelion people best. Strong one day, fragile the next. Unable to hide either state. Looking like they are set to shatter, but then in no time, they grow back again, strong and colorful. They are usually out there on display, wherever they may be in their lives.

Throw enough killing chemicals on them, though, and yes you may get rid of them. Hate, hurtful words, judgment, a total misunderstanding of who they are, condemnation of the dumb and careless things they do. (That we all do if we were honest and transparent.) These things poison not just the person for a moment but can poison generations through their influence. You may want them extinct because they do not meet your standards of perfection. Or the idea of perfection you have cultivated in your life.

I know plenty of people who are lawn proud. I have to marvel at the perfection, and the energy they put into getting it there, but my lawn will never be like theirs. Not only do I love the wildflowers that others call weeds, but I also dislike chemicals. And no, I won’t spend my life working for the chiseled and manicured look. There are other ways I prefer to spend my days.

I hope I am the same way with people. I hope I see the flowers in the weeds and not only recognize the beauty, but the strength. I hope I help them see it in themselves too. Sometimes that comes from dropping a bit of our own perfection, so they know the flawed beings we are underneath. Just like them.

Dandelions can be used as food (every part of them, in fact), and as medicine for all kinds of ailments. They can help add nutrients to the soil. They’re really quite the workhorse, growing, maturing, and dispersing to grow elsewhere. Qualities that, in people, make the best kinds of friends.

My dandelion people add such great things to the world. They are tough at the core and naturally spread themselves around. They don’t isolate but scatter. They don’t give up, but flower again and again and again. Most of the good change in this world comes from dandelion people. Their resilience will change the landscape.

I’m not knocking the hothouse rose or the rare orchid. I love flowers of all kinds. I marvel at them and find them exquisite and awe-inspiring. I love to stare at them and treasure them. But if I have to keep them alive for long, it makes me nervous. I was not created for complicated gardening. I need plants that can survive me. I need that kind of person, too. I have not yet mastered perfection on any level. But I am resilient. At this point in my life, I treasure this resiliency. The human spirit has an amazing capacity to regroup and recover and go on, stronger and more beautiful. We’ve got the tenacity of weeds, but the beauty of the flower.

What would become of the garden if the gardener treated all the weeds and slugs and birds and trespassers as he would like to be treated if he were in their place?”
– Thomas Henry Huxley
“A weed is a plant that is not only in the wrong place, but intends to stay.” – Sara Stein

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I love stories of people and places and enjoy telling these stories. I live in my hometown of Statesville, NC, in the Charlotte area, and love to show how lovely life is here. More is going on than may meet the eye. I also enjoy expanding throughout North Carolina to show the places and activities and people that make me believe life is fascinating and travel as much as I can, so write about that, too. I also have a passion for justice and a special interest in accessible healthcare, including treatment for drug and alcohol dependency. I am a woman of faith, joy, laughter, adventure, and live life to the full. Follow me on Twitter at or my blog or

Statesville, NC

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