I was strolling down the driveway with Coco and Lola yesterday and noticed that a bush/tree whatever (you can tell already that I am not a horticulturist, can’t you?) that produces beautiful clusters of purple berries, was doing something different.
It was flowering.
Now the little bit of plant knowledge I have tells me that these must be the forerunners to the berries. But, I have passed this wonderful plant by for almost 17 years and never once noticed its flowering phase. How blind am I?
Good grief, Neville. I mean that is ridiculous. I pride myself on my ability to notice things and yet, here in my own front yard, I am guilty of abject blindness.
In fairness, these flowers are tiny but they cluster like the berries end-product, so thankfully the birds and bees notice them in their needs to pollinate.
I have attached some of my better shots of them here at the end of the blog and I think my favorite is the fallen loner that was caught trapped on the end of a string of web.
He was swaying in the breeze and so getting any degree of focus on such a little guy is always an achievement for a shaky old geezer like myself. I know my tripods were only 100 feet away, but achieving focus in hand-held situations like these is one of life’s challenges that I like to give myself.
By the way, in one of the shots I included a little centimeter ruler so that you can see how tiny these little guys actually are. I hope you enjoy!
As I went through the images last night, I chastised myself for never having noticed such beauty before, right on my own doorstep. But then that thought morphed into how insignificant these little flowers are when surrounded by so much natural growth and chaos. Worst yard in Lakeland, I’m afraid.
Then my mind wandered (as it sometimes does) onto the greater concept of significance as it plays out in all our lives.
While children are growing up, it is clear that most of them believe that the world revolves around them. They don’t have a feeling of relative-significance and so they appear to all intents and purposes to be generally self-involved.
This isn’t a character trait that we need to worry about because as they become more sociable animals, they begin to develop an understanding that others around them are also significant. That we should consider feelings of others. That we should consider our community. That we should consider our planet.
This is an education process that broadens out our understanding that the world does not revolve around us. Yes, there is the occasional dotard that thinks the world does revolve around him, but the vast majority of us grow up to be more intelligent than that.
Sorry Ann, I know I said I would try not to mention him. Sometimes I can’t help myself.
Anyway, how significant we feel can vary at any moment in time. There are moments when the light shines so brightly upon us that we are made to feel super-important, like when we walk down the aisle in a beautiful white wedding dress. All eyes are on us and this is very much our day!
Admittedly when I tried that, most turned their eyes away in disgust. I don’t have the hips for it and my beard kept messing up the veil.
So when we encounter situations like that it is easy to get caught up in our own significance and forget that there are billions of people all around the world and each person has feelings, hopes, and dreams, just like we do.
We may diminish their significance on the basis of geography, social class, or economics. But in the eyes of mother nature, we are all her children. And no one is less important nor more important than the next.
The poorest child in India has equal significance to the richest elite in America. They may not, over their lifetime, be able to have the same impact on the world, but that does not mean they are less significant.
We use the strangest measuring tools to declare significance. 19 years ago, 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks in the US. 3 years later 230,000 people died in the sunami that caught south asia by surprise in late December.
How many of you reading this know the 9/11 story so well but didn’t even know there was a sunami of such significance?
See, this is the problem. We have emotionally connected with those that lost their lives in 9/11 and they are “us”. Whereas, the people half a world away are “them”.
And “Us” will always be of more significance than “Them”.
This is how competing governments and religions engage in their physical, social, and moral wars. They are quick to identify others as “them”. they are not “us”. Let’s build walls to keep “them” out. Let’s drop bombs on “them”. Let’s take as many of “them” with us when we detonate our exploding vests.
But there is no such thing as “them”.
We are all just people. People that love, that care, that feel, that hope.
Yet when we denigrate swathes of people into the “them” category, we reduce their significance and it allows us to proceed without due consideration and care.
However we wish to elevate our own significance, we need to bear in mind that such a status is not only wrong but its illusion dies with us.
Pause for a moment and ask yourself who the richest and most powerful man in New York in 1920 was. If you can answer that one, you are a better person than me. Because I have no idea. And neither does the rest of the world.
So the significance of his wealth and power evaporated as the dawn of a new day bleached his feeling of importance from the earth. Much as it will do to anyone that you attach significance to in this world today.
In the absence of significance, is insignificance cause for worry?
No, not at all.
Significance doesn’t affect the love and care felt by those we come into contact with during our life here. How we give and share has much greater effect, as does how we care.
A girl I used to date shared a beautiful line with me once. It read “to the world you may be just one person, but to one person you are the world”.
So, make note … how we love and how we care for others and for this planet. These are the real measures by which we should consider our worth.
Our true significance is carried within the hearts of those we leave behind. Beyond that, we are only the forerunners to the next batch of purple berries.