[Throwback Thursday — Originally published April 2014]
After spending a few hours playing outside with my son, once we were getting tired and I was trying to prepare myself for the fight to get him back inside, I sat down on the ground. I glanced at the grass all around me and realized most of it wasn’t actually grass; I was surrounded by clovers. (How I’ve lived here for about a year and just figured that out, I’m not quite sure.) So, while I was letting my son soak up the last bit of direct sunlight for the day, I started searching for the all-elusive four-leaf clover.
I became so invested that when Holden’s battery-powered ride-on train derailed and he lay stuck under it on the ground, I casually looked up at him for a split second, giggled, and told him to use his ‘big-boy powers’ and figure a way out on his own. (He actually simply said “Oh no!” once and then hung out pretty content on the ground for a few minutes before sliding out, righting the train, and riding it around the yard instead of on the track. So it’s not the earth-shattering neglect I’m making it out to be, but I want to get across how involved I was in my search.)
After rifling through the greenery beneath me, and getting way too excited several times thinking I had finally found the jackpot only to be disappointed when I realized two three-leaf clovers were overlapping to make it seem like it was one special four-leaf clover, I looked up at Jack and said, with significant defeat in my voice, “I don’t believe that four-leaf clovers exist!” He assured me that they do, because he had once found one. My mind went back to my childhood when I would spend hours and hours searching to no avail. I wasn’t sure I believed him.
Of course, once Jack told me he had found one himself once-upon-a-time, I took it as a challenge and stared even more ferociously at the ground, skimming over every reachable inch with my fingers to untangle the pesty non-important regular clovers. I wouldn’t let them trick me again! (Although they did, several times.) Every now and then I would start to give up and investigate other plant life I came across, and without realizing it I started a pile on the curb of all the various greenery I found, simply to make sure it was out of the way for when that inevitable rush of needing to find a lucky clover overcame me again. Which it did.
Pretty soon Holden realized I was up to something and came over to check it out. When he asked what I was doing, I mumbled some nonsense and gave him a tall piece of grass I had wound up on itself. Maybe it was a weed. Or grass-weed. Something like that. Anyway, it seemed to be enough for him, though he didn’t stray very far in case my obsessive ground-staring produced something exciting. He would slowly circle me, playing with his own toys and not paying me much attention, but keeping me in the corner of his sight none-the-less.
I started to find more and more random plants, and when I looked at my collection on the curb I noticed it had grown quite large. There were different sizes and shapes of grass, flowers, weeds, leaves, petals, stems. Some stuff I still am unsure of so I don’t know what to call it. I started looking for more — anything I had not already gathered, plus an extra of everything I had collected so I could dissect it and see what was inside. Holden started helping by bringing me flowers I couldn’t reach. We picked and poked and prodded and split and plucked. We had piled of intact plants, torn-open plants, plant parts. We were on a mission.
Holden started singing a simple tune of huh-hah-huh-huh, hah-huh-hah-huh I’ve heard him sing before. I’m pretty sure he made it up, which to me is quite remarkable for a toddler, but I know I’m biased. I started humming it with him, and as we scoured separate ends of the yard for new treasure I would hum the first half and he would sing the second. He was so proud of himself every time he found something new, even if we had already acquired five of the same item previously. Every time I hummed the first half of his song, he sang the second half even louder, obviously elated that I was involving myself in his world while he was, at the same time, involving himself in mine.
We spent even longer searching for and studying random plants than I had searching for that four-leaf clover. I didn’t smoke a single cigarette the entire time we were engaging in our mission. He didn’t whine his too-tired whine. Even the dog came happily over, wagged, and snuggled up next to us with a doggie-smile on her face. We were peaceful. We were pleasant, we were happy, and we were together. We were learning. We were engaging in what was given to us.
Everyone spends so long wanting and searching for luck. Whether it be actual luck, or that lucky item, or something just out of reach. We spend our entire lives waiting. As a former drug addict, I know how tenuous the strain of waiting consistently can be. Sadly, most ‘normal’ people don’t realize they spend just as much time waiting as does the person waiting for drugs. Everyone’s fighting for their next fix.
Your next fix is right in front of you, if you only open your eyes. This doesn’t mean give up on your dreams or stop trying to succeed and reach your goals. You should simply take some time out every once in a while. There is good all around you. I know my situation wasn’t dire or anything, but my conundrum of not being able to find a rare lucky charm resulted in something far more valuable. Those regular, plain, non-important three-leaf clovers were the luckiest thing to happen to me all week; or, not finding the four-leaf clover was.
Whichever way you look at it, valuable is not always important. Rare is not always impressive. Sometimes, the usual, ordinary, wonderful things life gives you are the most perfect you will ever come across. You simply have to allow yourself to stop squashing them in the wake of your search for the elusive.
(P.S. – I’m still not sure I believe Jack.)