Life lessons learned from a lucky clover -
musings on talent and opportunity
Spring always comes very early in the Deep South. Unless you plan well ahead and spend a ton of money on a lawn service such as TruGreen, one of the first signs of spring's arrival is a lawn full of clover, violets, chickweed, and other pesky native weeds. My less-than-perfectly-manicured lawn has huge patches of clover at the moment, so I've been indulging in something I've done since I was a child: looking for and collecting four-leaf clover.
Every morning I take my two dogs out for a potty break and a morning romp. Our gentle rescue dog, Farrah, is so well-behaved that I let her play in the yard off-leash. While she frolics about enjoying the fresh air and spring sunshine, I spend a few moments looking down at my feet and searching for those harbingers of good luck, the four leaf clover. (I even discovered one in this photo I took of her - look at the white clover blossom in the bottom right corner, then slightly to the left and down.)
Some of my friends tell me they've *never* found one of these traditional good luck symbols. I will give them the benefit of the doubt, but I do have to wonder if they've truly looked. I have been collecting them since childhood, and can usually spot them fairly easily. My friend Michael, a fellow musician, says it's because our brains are especially good at pattern recognition due to our many years of musical training. Whatever the cause, I can often find upwards of a dozen of them in just a few minutes.
According to Wikipedia, the actual occurrence of the four-leaf clover mutation is around 1 in 5,000. Scientists debate on whether this mutation is caused by genetics or environment. I personally think that both can have an influence. Here are some of my observations on these "lucky charms" and the life lessons that can be learned from them that I have pondered whilst strolling about my yard.
Opportunity, or "luck", comes to those who actually look for it.
While many of us may have a lawn full of clover patches, or have walked through them in other places, how many times have you actually stopped to look around you and search for four-leaf clovers? Similarly, you can't wait for opportunity to find you - you have to put yourself out there and take chances in order for your talent to be discovered. Work on personal growth and development, hone your craft, and take every chance and risk that you can; then someone will be able to discover your unique offerings when the moment comes.
Don't be afraid to be different from those around you.
You don't have to always fit in. Someone will eventually see and recognize your value, even if it's not at the present moment. Keep being unique, and really embrace that uniqueness, even when it's a bit lonely being the only one. What makes a four-leaf clover special and valued is the fact that it IS different from thousands of its fellows.
If you are not thriving where you are, don't be afraid to find something new.
There are some patches of clover that have many more of these four-leaf mutations than others. I don't know if it's something in the soil, or whether they crossbreed with others, and therefore the recessive gene comes out more often. Whatever the cause, some places have many, while there are other spots that appear to have none. If a situation, job, or environment is not allowing you to be your best, try a new location or opportunity - find a place full of other "four-leaf clovers" and enjoy the support of those who value your artistic or other unique abilities.
By the same token, you can still "bloom where you are planted".
Perhaps you don't have the money or other necessary resources to move to New York City, or to attend a top-notch conservatory or other school. If I take the time to REALLY look, there has almost never been a patch of clover where I can't find a four-leafed one. They may be few and far between, and they definitely take more work to find them, but they are usually there - even if they are the only one. So, don't be discouraged if you don't have the resources to improve your opportunities at the moment. Keep being your unique self, and with hard work and persistence, someone will eventually see your value - and your moment will come!
Uniqueness (and talent or "luck") comes in all shapes and sizes.
If you look at the photo below of the clover I picked today, you can see that even this rare mutation comes in many varieties. Some have white markings on the leaves, while others are plain. Some have oval or tear-drop shaped leaves, while others are heart-shaped. Some are large, others are small and yet fully developed. Be your unique self, and also be able to appreciate the qualities of other's talents, even if they are very different from your own. We are all special!
Stay close to your roots.
When I'm out picking four-leaf clover in my yard, I usually have my other dog, P.J. (Penelope Jane) with me, and her leash in my hand. I pick the clovers and hold the stems in just a couple of fingers - so they have a tendency to wilt fairly quickly. If I want to preserve them, I have to bring them inside before they wilt and press them onto wax paper and weight it with a book. Similarly, when we as artists are cut off from the things and people that helped shape and define us, we can fail to thrive, and can "shrivel" as it were. Don't forget your roots, no matter how humble your origins, and take nourishment from the things and experiences that helped create your uniqueness in the first place. Many times, those are the people who really value and appreciate us for being who we are.
Thanks for reading, and if you found this interesting or inspiring, please feel free to share!