daffodils in snow

Some lessons about growing from our buds

Many of my friends insist that autumn is the best season of the year.  I must disagree!  For me, spring will always be when I find my inspiration.  That moment when the maple tree in my front yard shows little pokes of green along an otherwise dead-seeming branch is simply magic.  Ever since I took Fred Spiegel‘s botany class in college, the daffodil has held special significance for me.  We were to show the development of the structures in the plant over its life cycle, and so I found several plants at different stages of growth during spring break and videotaped my dissections.  This hardy flower has a lot of lessons for me, though, and I wanted to share what I’ve picked up from it.

First, it pays to arrive early.  Daffodils are one of the earliest flowers we see each spring, and they get more attention as a result.  If you know me well, you know I am a morning person.  Morning hours are precious, and I may have had my most productive time before the late risers in the mass spectrometry center even arrive.  This also has applications in the various fields of science.  If you are the last person to decide genomics is the wave of the future, fewer potential niches will be available for you because the field is already crowded with scientists.  Researchers who begin research in a field before the road map is in place will face obstacles (like snow for some early daffodils), but the first people into a field draw the road map!

Second, beauty is transitory.  Daffodils will wither and fall long before the other blooms of summer.  We humans have our moment in the sun, too, but eventually we all succumb to time.  In the all-too-brief springtime of our lives, we will have the opportunity make our mark, contributing something memorable for those who come after us.  I believe that senior scientists (including myself) could be more graceful about ceding the ground to the researchers who will one day take our place.  It is not shameful to age; we should be grateful we have the chance to do so!

Third, let your colors shine!  Daffodils draw the eye because they bring a brilliant yellow to a landscape filled with brown and gray.  We all have within us a spark of vibrancy that only we can contribute to the world.  All too frequently, we hide it, for a wide variety of reasons.  Maybe your talent lies in singing or dancing, or perhaps your skill is empathic listening or physical care for others.  How dull and drab our society would be if nobody came forward with these gifts!

I wish you a glorious springtime!

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