I was out walking my dog the other morning and as he started to slow his gait and do his extra-intensive sniffing, head down, gravity causing his lips to flap open to show his fangs, I knew he was about to do his business.
Circle. Circle. Squat. Avert eyes!
And there, as I looked away, in a lawn full of clover, a big, glaring four-leafed clover is staring right back at me. I ponder a moment to pass the time...
Dog business complete. Steam rising. Bag over hand. Well, you know the rest.
My business now also complete, I looked back to the four-leaf clover still glaring back at me. I picked it to take home to my daughters. You know, share the good luck!
And, as I walked home with a big bag of shit in one hand and a four-leafed clover in the other, I felt there had to be some life learning in the symbolic contradiction and absurdity of the image.
So, here we go:
1. Hold on carefully. Throw away intentionally. We best remember what we have in each hand! Hold on to the correct one. Throw the other one away. How we hold a four-leaf clover or a bag of shit with a loose grip, a tight grip, a couple of fingers minimizing any possible transfer to bare skin, a couple fingers gingerly trying to protect and save - this will remind us in our bodies what we are holding onto even when the mind wanders and life moves on. It will remind us what we need to let go of. We need to pay attention to how we hold things.
2. Clover with a pile of shit in it is still clover. A pile of shit in the midst of clover is still a pile of shit. Our circumstances don’t define or redefine us as we move through the shitty or clover-y parts of life. We define who we are and how we are in the world and carry that with us wherever we go – come what may. We also know this to be true for others. So, we should always recognize shit cloaked in clover for what it is. We also shouldn’t be blind to the clover just because there happens to be some shit around it.
3. Own your shit. We don’t have a lot of choice as to whether or when we have a four-leaf clover or a bag of shit. As with my walk, most of us have some of both most of the time. We can’t just drop the shit for someone else to deal with because it stinks, it’s gross, or we just want to pretend it’s all clover. We have to hold on to it carefully until we can dispose of it. It’s ours. Own it. But, get rid of it as soon as possible.
4. Seize the clover. We also don’t always have the choice to just focus on the clover. Sometimes, shit rules. Focusing on clover doesn’t magically make it disappear. So, when we do have the choice, we have to claim it. If we stop looking for the clover and holding carefully onto what we find, the shit just gets that much heavier and more stinky. Carpe clover.
5. Avoid pattern blindness. Look for the misfits. The four-leaf clover is a misfit. In the land of three-leafers, it’s probably ridiculed and bullied. But, when we look at a field of three-leafers, our eyes eventually blur and we don’t see much of anything specific or nuanced anymore. And then, the four-leafer jumps out! Our senses awaken and we start looking more closely, looking for more like it. We become curious. We become explorers. We look at all of the clover differently.