This I Believe

Anna - Ada, Michigan
Entered on June 26, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: nature, setbacks
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Yellow Soldiers

Like many seventeen-year-olds, I’m a bit of a naïve, obstinate idealist. I stand up for every heroic virtue, no matter how stale or forgotten. Yet when I think about what’s really close to my heart, I think of dandelions. Against every principle, I hold the somewhat childish beliefs that everyone would enjoy a bouquet of dandelions, and their bright elegant color adds pizzazz to any lawn or floral arrangement. Above all, I believe dandelions represent many more facets of human nature than we care to admit, and mankind’s insistence that dandelions are weeds demonstrates their inability to recognize, accept, and embrace their own souls mirrored in nature. I believe that graduating the dandelion to flower status is a step closer to realizing and allowing human imperfection.

One of my strongest childhood memories is of strategically running across my neighbor’s dandelion-covered lawn with the neighborhood kids to see who could catch more dandelion heads between their toes. This memory is particularly strong because it was repeated so frequently during so many summers that they run together as one. Ironically, we trampled through the yard of the only man on our street who cared about his lawn. Other neighbors cared enough to mow twice a month, but this was the man who actually landscaped and mowed every three days. Consequently, we would often retire for the night and leave his lawn hidden under a slightly trampled, but still radiant canary yellow blanket, and come out the next afternoon to find unfriendly grass stubble and dandelion stalks. The betrayal was such that we would share an impish giggle when the dandelions would give us revenge by growing back seemingly as fast as he could cut them. We’d add insult to injury by frolicking through his yard again, taunting him with our love of their humanlike stubbornness and vengefulness.

Like most people, dandelions pale in comparison with the standard of beauty, yet it’s a rare kid who hasn’t brought his mom a bouquet of the ruggedly beautiful flower. Something ordinary suddenly becomes extraordinary when given in complete love and loyalty. Soon dandelions were just as good to give my mom because she didn’t care what they looked like, just that I thought of her. She loved me like they were daffodils and lilacs.

Earlier this month, the dandelions were blooming like I had never seen them in my neighbor’s yard, veiling his lush lawn in yellow. When I noticed this, I resisted the urge to pick some for my mom. Instead, I left it untouched, letting nostalgia engulf me. Later, I got home to find the lawn cut and the dandelion stems bent pathetically over one another. My initial reaction was of anger and that proverbial betrayal, but the more I pondered, the less those stems looked like disappointing surrender. They started to personify human pride and our bullheaded but noble tendency to fight to the death. The best realization was there’s no getting rid of them. What’s more human than that?