Blame it on a bargain at the local Tuesday Morning store. They were selling seed kits with everything needed to plant them at a real bargain. Or maybe it was the seeds I received from the Chula Vista library, in a package they sent at the height of the pandemic, that included seeds and a book exhorting the benefits of spending more time in nature. I don’t know for sure where the seeds came from, but I decided to be optimistic and plant them.
I buried them in dirt, watered them regularly with all my plants, then forgot about those seeds for 10 months. Given that other new succulent cuttings grew in the soil, I thought perhaps the seeds were too old and wouldn’t germinate. And then, something that looked like a weed sprouted from the soil of one mason jar.
The weed I almost pulled turned out to be a flower. It looked like a dandelion weed to me until this bloom. It was growing from the small jar along small succulents. Perhaps the wind carried something there? I let it go and grow, intrigued by this weed growing so much taller than the jar.
“I should probably replant it, but I don’t want to disturb what’s happening. My little Jack and the Beanstalk plant,” murmured I.
The other day it sprouted the most beautiful purple flower. You just never know. Nature and the patio garden and life can surprise you. It’s my favorite shade of purple, deeper than lavender, not quite electric purple. And it looks like it might sprout more little flowers from some small buds on its vine.
It could be a California wildflower, of what species name, I do not know. It’s pretty though and a reminder that nature, waiting and time can sometimes take me for a pleasant surprise and instill in me awe.
Life is that way.
How many times over the years have I thought to myself, “this doesn’t seem to be working,” “I’m not sure where this is going,” “perhaps I should throw in the towel,” or other such comments? God and nature, I see, were telling me with this weed, “wait, your ‘weed’ is still growing. It just doesn’t look pretty now.”
It’s akin to the proverbial messy middle part of things, where you’re in the middle of the project and can’t remember what possessed you to start in the first place. It’s unclear and you have to look back at the project outline, or see what you were tasked (or tasked yourself) to do in the first place, to remind yourself where you’re going with a goal or project. At least, it seems that way to me from time to time.
If I just keep watering the plants, doing my efforts, keeping at it with goals and projects I care about, trying my best at things, assess where I’m at now and then, and aim to be kind, the messy weeds part of it all may start to grow into something beautiful. That purple flower bursting forth was the perfect reminder to me to stay present and let myself be inspired by all that is around me. Being in awe often happens when I least expect it.
We’ve had mourning doves cooing and landing on our balcony for months. It’s very soothing to listen to their song. I’ve been paying attention and trying to notice one thing beautiful or interesting or unique or inspiring in nature per day this year.
So when I went outside to our balcony garden and thought “Oh wow, look at that!” about “my” flower, I made sure to write it down in my “Wowed by Creation and Nature” handmade journal book. That book is growing and reminds me of awesome experiences whenever I reread the entries.
Last week, I had 20 minutes waiting outside an office building when I saw that the street I was parked on was full of huge, towering eucalyptus trees. I got out of my car and walked along the sidewalk. Standing underneath the canopy of huge branches, looking upward and seeing the sun’s rays peeking through, I was filled with awe in the eucalyptus trees on the sidewalk.
It was a moment, and such a small thing, but it made me feel so much better. My whole mood and the rest of my day perked up. The ocean does this for me somedays. Other times, it’s birds flying overhead, dragonflies the size of hummingbirds seen on a recent trip…the list goes on.
The benefits of watching out for small wonders in the world around you have been noted by many. A New York Times article last year mentioned the importance of taking “Awe Walks” for your well-being.
The more I allow myself to be impressed by natural phenomena, the more I notice how centering and grounding it truly is to do so. It improves my whole outlook. I ask myself, “Are you noting the small things that you see or smell or hear in nature, or reveling in new tastes or textures you touch? Are you allowing yourself to be inspired by your own or others’ acts of courage?” These things can give us a sense of vastness that brings perspective to our own relatively small place in the greater world. They can improve our view of things at hand and our general sense of wellbeing.
If you journal, writing these things down is another way of remembering. I find it’s helpful to try to stay in awareness of what’s going on in the natural world around me so I can try to get a regular dosing of awe.
That hit of awe can be the flower that bloomed from the “weed”, the trees that gave me perspective on my own size compared to the sky, the sun, the cosmos and beyond, or simply looking around and seeing what nature has in store to surprise and restore me today. These are all gifts. And I’m thankful for them.
Mindfully noting these things makes me feel calmer and happier and more grateful. It restores my faith in the divine and in the world in ways I didn’t realize it would. In the midst of daily life, I’m enjoying finding these pockets of urban nature and doses of awe. Have you been finding these moments of awe in your natural world and noticing them as well? Reach out to us here at [email protected] or find us on social @joyfestivalindustries and let us know what you’ve been finding in nature that’s inspired a sense of awe in you! Be well 😊