I’ll admit it: I’m the kind of person who sometimes looks at a seemingly ordinary thing and finds some cause for philosophical reflection. That was the case about a month ago.
Having run some errands, I returned to our house and noticed a lone zinnia had sprouted near the sidewalk that leads from the end of our driveway past a flower bed and to our back patio. The flower bed was filled with zinnias in bloom, and obviously a seed had somehow, at sometime drifted off on its own.
I’m not sure why I hadn’t noticed the lone flower when I walked past the area to get in my car to leave for my errands, but there it was, its thin short stem pushing up from among the grass and weeds, its broad green leaves and tiny pink petals soaking up the sun. I stood in the driveway staring at it.
In that moment I thought: what a wonderful metaphor. Here was a flower that would have been lost in the flower bed among all the other zinnias. Its diminutive form would have been swallowed up by so many other zinnias in the flower bed, blending into a collage of pinks, oranges and reds. It would have been barely noticed, if it was noticed at all.
But on its own it stood out. Not only did it stand out, it seemed to stand taller than its own size.
I thought about all the implications of standing apart.
Sometimes we stand apart because we are forced to; we are not permitted to be part of a group. Sometimes we stand apart because we allow our own doubts and lack of self-esteem to get the better of us; we isolate ourselves believing we do not deserve to be in the company of others. And sometimes we stand apart because we have to; we refuse to be anyone other than who we are, even if it means we must stand alone.
Yet there is something to be said for standing alone. It means standing out. It means being true to one’s self. It means standing tall.
Certainly there might be times in life when someone wants only to fit in, to be part of a group. This might be the case early in life, during childhood. But that has not ever been too important to me, and it is even less so the older I get.
The lone zinnia, then, seemed to embody that whole concept.
Ultimately I took a photo of the flower and created a meme that reads: “Standing apart from the crowd might mean standing alone, but it also might mean standing out and standing tall.”
Maybe it also means you get all the sunshine you deserve.