My daffodil hasn’t bloomed yet. I checked on the way to begin planting herbs in the garden, and it is still in bud— showing color but still furled tight. Its sisters have bloomed already and are doubtless wondering what’s going on with their sib, but my daffodil is okay with that. It’s simply waiting for the right moment to bloom.
Flowers have their own wisdom. Issa, one of the old haiku masters, recognized this and wrote:
Live in simple faith
Just as this trusting cherry
blooms, fades, and falls.
Flowers are also pretty brave. Delicate, gentle souls that they are, they wait all year to grace the trees and bushes or the small, tender shoots that spring out of the ground. They come no matter whether the temperature has hit the freezing mark or unseasonably hot. They come whether the gardener is skilled or merely bumbling along—like me. They know what it is that they have to do, and they quietly go about doing it.
I thought about flowers today as I re-read a thoughtful post about rejection that was written by one of my SCBWI colleagues. This resonates because who amongst us has not been rejected? The snub on the kindergarten playground, the scorn of the popular kids during middle school, and—woeful, indeed—the pangs of unrequited love! Nor is that the end of it, for there is still the workplace to contend with. Those of us who write or paint or stitch our dreams onto paper or canvas or cloth feel the sting of rejection many times, as small reflections of ourselves venture out into the world only to be met with denial, or even worse, indifference
When I was young, my Uncle Harry would quote Kipling’s poem “If” to me whenever some enterprise of mine had failed. He would always emphasize the line, “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same,” and this would either cheer me up or make me so mad that I would go and try again. Getting mad does work, sometimes.
Actually, most of us lick our wounds and soldier on, but there are times when we just haven’t got the energy to field one more form rejection letter. It’s all very well to quote poems or statistics or to say that Pearl Buck’s magnificent work, The Good Earth, was rejected over twenty times, but sometimes our source of moxie does run dry. At times like these perhaps it’s no comfort to be told that many psychologists believe that failure builds strength and that strength builds confidence and that confidence eventually wins the prize.
For myself, when my resolve has dipped to an all time low, I go out into the garden and plant something. Then I sit back and look at the mound of earth into which I have dropped seeds and think—now, something wonderful is going to begin. These small seeds are tough! They will push roots down and seek nutriments and moisture, their leaves will reach up and out of the dark earth, they will strengthen, and soon there will be buds and flowers. No defeatist thoughts for these guys. Their goal is to get out there and flourish, and flourish will! And if they can do it, surely I too can find my way into the sun. And some day that daffodil is going to bloom!
This one tiny seed
Is full of marvelous dreams
And untold courage.