“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”

— Thomas Gray

If a flower blooms unseen in the desert, is its sweetness wasted?

As we move toward the end of 2012, my year of  “Legacy,” this idea of wasted beauty touches something deep in my soul.  How often do we put aside the urge to add something beautiful to our world simply because it may not be seen and recognized by other people?  How dependent are we on the immediate recognition of our accomplishments and contributions?  Can we possibly reach a point where we simply are free to be who we were born to be, to create and contribute and beautify simply because the things we carry inside us need to be turned loose on the world?

As I reflect on the year that soon will end, I can think of times when my heart opened wide and spilled all the good things into the space around me.  I can also think of times when I sat on the impulse to allow goodness to flow and convinced myself that such a contribution was insignificant, unnecessary, and unwarranted.  Perhaps timing seemed to be an issue, and it appeared that the time was not right for sharing or creating or spilling the contents of my heart on that day.  Perhaps there will be a better time and the unseen beauty will one day come into the light.  Perhaps it will stay confined and remain a mystery, even to the one whose heart carries it.  Sometimes we fail to recognize our own gifts until we see them in the light of day.  For this reason, if for no other, it is important to open our hearts and let them spill their beauty, even when we have no expectations that it will be seen, recognized, or embraced.

In his story, The Little Prince, Antoine de St. Exupery tells us, “What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it contains a well.”  Knowing that there are such marvelous things just beneath the surface of even the most bleak landscape can send us searching for some relief from the ordinary, the mundane, the unexciting things that make up our existence.  Perhaps this is the reason we must not rely on the recognition, approval, or permission of others when our hearts have something beautiful to share.  Perhaps this is what Legacy is about.

We must trust that each time we spill some beauty into the universe there is a traveler somewhere whose curiosity sends him searching for just the thing we have to offer.  The flowers that bloom all around us every day can become almost invisible as we see them as ordinary and unremarkable and unworthy of our attention; but a flower that suddenly appears in the middle of the desert can captivate us, delight us, and transform our view of the desert simply because it took the time to bloom with no promise that it would be seen.

We are all connected.  One piece of the universe touches another which touches another.  Our reason for existing is to let the beauty spill from our hearts so that it can touch the heart of another person’s curiosity.  We must not be discouraged because there is no one to see what our heart has to share.  We may not always be present at the moment of discovery, but we must continue to bloom.  This is our legacy.