Sunflowers–Beauty Stems From Imperfection

Dara LevanBlog2 Comments

Do you ever intend to exercise but something distracts you? Motivating, stretchy leggings hugged my thighs. Socks and sneakers waited for me at the door. I even wrote “afternoon walk” in my calendar on Tuesday. So what happened?

While walking through the kitchen, I noticed vibrant sunflowers. They coaxed me toward them from the transparent, purple vase in which they stood. I remembered what my daughter had said to me just the day before. “Mommy, when will the flowers that I gave you open up?” I said to her, “When they are ready.”

I reached into my pocket and touched my phone. As you know, or perhaps do not yet, one of my passions is photography. I became immersed in snapping various angles of the blooms. The bright petals opened like arms awaiting a hug. I totally lost track of time.

My eyes then wandered to the backyard. I grabbed the sunflowers and headed outside. I was barefoot and captivated by the moment. I was going to capture the contrast of the bright yellow blooms against the emerald-green grass. As I arranged the sunflowers, I became slightly frustrated as they flopped and repeatedly rolled over in different directions.

Unbeknownst to me, minutes had turned into an hour. I’d embarked on an unplanned mission to arrange the sunflowers “just so.” And that’s when it hit me: Beauty can stem from imperfection. I stared at these radiant but apparently stubborn stalks and thought, “Huh. You’re not going to cooperate with my vision, are you?”

I aborted the artistic mission. I literally dug my toes into the dirt, looked up at the sky, and let the flowers fall as they wished. I remembered there were a cluster of purple leaves behind me.  Renewed and creatively jazzed, I snatched the sunflowers from the ground and confidently strolled toward the purple leaves. I had a plan that had materialized in my mind.

As I approached the ground covering, I noticed for the first time that petite lavender flowers grew amongst the pointy leaves. I began to arrange each of the six sunflowers in a balanced semicircle. Some of the stinkers, once again, leaned one way and others fell over. One flower had the audacity to face plant and nearly squash its perfect petals!

The sun shone from behind a few clouds and a high palm tree. Ethereal rays beamed light onto the round faces of each flower. I attempted to hold a few stalks between my bare toes. I then tried staking the thickest one in the dirt. Nope. Nature’s sunny bunch wasn’t having it. I felt both frustrated and determined. 

Then I had a revelation. As I always tell my family and friends, there’s a lesson in each moment. The sunflowers sent me a message to let go of how I thought this should be or look today. So I finally did. I awkwardly held one and then two in my hand as I captured images with my phone. I was grateful for the iPhone camera technology.

After a deep exhalation, I studied these uplifting flowers. They were perfect because of their imperfection. Some stalks were thicker and others were thinner. Some looked confident and sturdy as their round faces smiled at the sky. One flower wasn’t quite ready to show herself, and that was okay, too.

I still went for my walk. It wasn’t as long as I’d wanted, but it inspired me to write this piece. If we quiet our minds, our hearts will open just like sunflowers do. I realized that a distraction can spark an idea, which may sprout after it’s planted.  I also thought about the center of each sunflower. I learned that the dark circle is actually a tight-knit family of tiny flowers. The beauty and depth of the sunflower speaks to my soul.

Just like sunflowers, we all grow at our own pace. We bloom where we are planted at the right time. If the soil or sunlight does not support our growth, we can relocate ourselves to a more nourishing garden. As human beings, we do have that choice. We can choose to reach toward the sun. As Hellen Keller said, “Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.”

Today those flowers are back in the vase. They have fully opened yet still show their individuality. I noticed that some petals are a bit torn from our time together. The bold sunflowers are just as stunning, and they seem to stand even taller. It’s been a visual reminder this week of optimism, strength, loyalty, and faith.

My observant teen noticed the sunflowers. I hadn’t shared with her about my day. On her way upstairs that night, Zoe said, “Look how beautiful they are! The sunflowers opened!” I smiled and nodded. Yes, they sure did. Just as we knew they would. It’s a valuable lesson for us all—we cannot control when or how something blossoms. We are where we are supposed to be.


2 Comments on “Sunflowers–Beauty Stems From Imperfection”

  1. I re-read this just now looking out at huge pine trees rising from a bank whose grass is burnt brown by wintery weather that preceded me in this place. I love the woods but your yellow sunflower symphony of colors resonated even more in your line: “ Beauty can stem from imperfection”.
    From my soul to yours – thank you

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