It was four years ago when, for the first time, wildflowers stepped into my world. My husband Sevan and I took our boys fishing at Eleven Mile Reservoir. My mind and heart were burdened with anxiety on the drive. Staring blankly out of the car’s window, I was questioning whether my husband and I were being responsible parents in allowing honesty and compassion to influence our business decisions, sometimes to the detriment of our ability to provide for our children’s needs. Suddenly, patches of orange, white, and yellow flowers on the rocky, barren, and sloping roadside caught my eye, making a connection and communicating with me in a singular way.
I said, “We should be like them, giving beauty to places choked by ugliness.” Immediately, I asked Sevan, “Honey, what do you think when looking at those wildflowers? Who do they represent?”
“It depends,” he said as he always does when he does not understand my point and does not want to discuss it further.
Wildflowers have been my wise and comforting companions ever since. It might sound unusual that they are capable of communicating, but they are. Wildflowers use no words in their conversation, yet they have taught me some important concepts that often the most elegant words fail to articulate: meaning, perseverance, and generosity. Wildflowers patiently wait to teach, to console, and to encourage every passerby.
These ambassadors of nature let nothing stand in the way of fulfilling their purpose. Perhaps more than anything else, they demonstrate the power and beauty of life over ugliness and death.
A white, heavy blanket of snow might cover them for a short time, but this fails to silence them permanently. They arise to decorate roadsides and mountain slopes and announce the arrival of spring, the season of life. As one falls at the departure of each season, others arise and continue the legacy.
Compared to a magnificent tree whose size and beauty steal any observer’s attention at a glance, small wild flowers might not seem to carry any significance. Nevertheless, it is their fragile yet gorgeous presence that enhances the tree’s beauty. In doing so, they teach that value is derived not from simple perception, but from one’s ability to perceive a deeper form of beauty.
Wildflowers illustrate the perseverance inherent to an undefeatable character by the way they handle adversity. Unlike many who blame unfair life circumstances for their unpleasant behavior, wildflowers take charge of those situations, turning them into opportunities to shine brighter. For example, on a summer day when campers set their tents on their fragile stems and their carefree children step on them ignoring their very presence, wildflowers do not quit living—they simply bounce back.
They become a part of the family picture that continues to exist long after the family is gone. At the end of the day, in the background of the picture, it is the same ignored and mistreated wildflowers that breathe life to the otherwise bare ground. Every time they rebound, they discover a new level of strength in themselves. Hardship makes them better, not bitter. In this way, they illustrate that character evolves not from comfort but through adversity. If handled properly, adversity removes impurity from the heart as fire removes impurity from gold. As gold is expensive and is used for delicate and important purposes, so is the person whose character is molded through adversity.
Wildflowers exemplify a life of giving, too, since they generously give everything they have. They withhold nothing, even their lives. What makes these beautiful beings’ life profound is that they are not privileged in any way, yet they privilege whoever arrives at their path. While not tall and tough like trees, they provide shelter and shade nevertheless. They are exposed to the harshest environmental elements and are open to mistreatment by animals and humans. When strong winds and rushing rainwater expose their roots, threatening their existence, they continue enabling others’ lives. For example, their flowers provide a sure food source for some wild animals, and their bushy leaves cover little prairie dogs’ and rabbits’ shaking bodies, hiding them from eagles’ and hawks’ sharp eyes.
Although wildflowers do not share the luxuries available to indoor plants, they refuse to harbor anger and resentment in their hearts. Take dandelions, for instance: their life is short, and at any moment, a lawnmower might chop off their heads. Yet, they are models of sacrifice. Playful children’s faces light up when picking the round yellow flowers that grew overnight. And if they avoid the careful eyes of children and live to old age, they provide opportunities for young children, whose world is too simple for adults to consider, to close their eyes, make a wish, and blow at the flower’s gray hair, offering the promise of a wish coming true.
At a deep emotional level, wildflowers never cease to comfort and encourage us by demonstrating resilience. When the heat of asphalt and the weight of cement declare death over life, the small seed of a wildflower, empowered by the slightest ray of sunlight and a drop of rain, overrules the decree and proclaims life and beauty. These little flowers offer a message of hope to people whose minds and hearts are burdened by the weight of worries and uncertainties. They whisper to each of us that the seed of greatness resides in the innermost part of their being and is waiting to come to life and turn things around. By their example, wildflowers communicate to broken passersby that what matters most is not where unfair circumstances may have taken them, but rather who they are and what they can become.
Wildflowers break through the toughest rocks and climb the highest mountains, existing above the timberline where giant trees fail to grow. They prove that no mountain is impossible to conquer or too high to climb. Wildflowers lead the way, hold the flag of victory over adversity, and stand up there cheering and encouraging those who think that their problems are insurmountable to look up and press forward toward the peak, where the biggest problems look small and insignificant.
Wildflowers provide beauty in dull and unforgiving places and enhance beauty where it already exists. They do not compete to earn the highest place but give all they have to bring the best out of others. Even in death, wildflowers continue to give—their dried bodies enhance the elegance of flower arrangements. They prefer to blend and share their glory with others to serve a greater purpose: they always remind us of life’s worth.
Sharlete Babrudi is pursuing a doctorate in psychology. She aims to help troubled teens overcome childhood adversity and realize their value. She spends her spare time scouring Colorado for antique treasures, surfing Craigslist for free furniture that her husband is endlessly refinishing, and cooking delicious Persian meals for her friends. She speaks four languages fluently and lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and two lively boys.