Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary

A cottonwood seed hidden in the grass. 2012 J.E. Lindsay

The Cottonwood is drifting through my yard like so many downy ideas just waiting for the right moment to settle and take root. It’ll cling to anything: hair, clothing, spiderwebs. It piles together in crunchy clumps and rolls across the road like bits of snowy tumbleweed.

The amount of seed being released is truly uncountable. The number that will find a fertile place to rest and grow to full-sized trees will only be few.

The ancestor of every action is a thought. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I sit at my desk watching these micro-sized assailants to my eyes, throat, and nose parade through the neighborhood I’m reminded of all the stories that have flitted through the field of my consciousness. Some have had great potential but failed to take hold. Most have floated on by without me ever being aware they’d ever existed.

Then there are those few little wisps of the imagination that landed among the right mix of creativity, passion, and gumption. Some of them grew quickly and have gone on to encourage and inspire others. Some are taking their time in maturing, and I love them all the more for it.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. ~ Marcel Proust

One of the most incredible aspects about writing is we never really know which little seeds will go on to produce the most fruit. This is why it’s so important to train ourselves to discover the extraordinary in every single day. We have to continue fertilizing and watering our creative selves if we want to do anything of value.

And the possibilities for inspiration are as endless as the fluff in the air around me!

It can come from an art walk. A car show. A goofy video posted by a couple of bored children on holiday. Even something as seemingly mundane as watching bits of pollen in the wind could ultimately provide the perfect soil for something incredible to grow.

If you overlook the ordinary, you’ll never see the extraordinary.

A 158-year-old cottonwood tree grows in the middle of an intersection
 in rural Audubon County, Iowa. (Via BigStock.)

There are few things that irritate my seasonal allergies as much as cottonwood pollen, but anyone who has ever seen a full-grown cottonwood tree would tell you it’s beautiful. Like so many things in nature, you would never guess how large the trees get (up to 80 feet) based on looking at the minuscule seeds.

And as with the fury bits floating on sunbeams as I type this, you’ll never spot a life-changing thought if you aren’t actively looking for it. 


  1. Wow. Great thoughts, Jen. Sort of takes the guilt away for not having followed through with every idea that blows across my mind. Like everything else that God created to produce fruit in this world, creativity must be allowed to generate wildly in order to yield a few sprouts that will become truly great.

    1. Absolutely! Now go tend those few sprouts of yours and see how much they grow! :D