Cambrian: Opinion

Like wildflowers in Cambria’s backcountry, we should celebrate our own uniqueness

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” — Carl Jung

Bees, butterflies and bouquet-makers love wildflowers.

When it comes to a gift from and for the heart, there’s nothing like a handpicked mini wildflower arrangement to lift our spirits. I say, “mini” because when I was a child, my mom, Gayle Oksen, taught my brother Eric and me to be thrifty with the wildflowers.

Mom explained how the plants needed to mature to cast their seeds. That way, nature’s display was insured for generations to come. Up here in the Santa Lucia Mountains, near Rocky Butte, we’ve picked a few wildflowers for the festive table in our annual Oksen Easter celebrations

Those flowers were inevitably covered with insects that continued their own feast while our family sat and ate my mom’s creative cuisine. As we dined, the flowers drooped. The bugs vacated the flowers and crawled or flew away to greener pastures. In a rainbow of colors, messy bug-eaten, frostbitten and wind-ravaged petals and pollen floated down onto to the lace tablecloth.

Still, bugs and all, we appreciated what the flowers brought to the table. If only we looked at people, including ourselves, with the same eyes. We quite naturally marvel at the essence of a wildflower, so why don’t we focus on and emphasize our own innate glory?

Why is conformity still the prevailing tendency rather than uniqueness and genuineness? Boring.

Sure, external forces can influence our true nature, but for many of us, deviations from being authentic are akin to self-sabotage and self-betrayal. Don’t get me wrong, I get why people fake it in the face of obstacles such as fear and inequality.

Sometimes, it feels smarter and safer to pretend. It’s just that, in my experience, when I trade my authenticity for security, I endure all sorts of self-imposed woes. Sadness, anxiety and depression come to mind. When that’s the case, perhaps it really is better to embrace our perfectly imperfect selves.

If we foster authenticity and accept each other as the evolving and fallible human beings that we are, we may find common ground from which to grow together.

If we can agree to communicate with the intention to be real, truthful and kind, that is a supportive foundation that we can build on. Much like a California poppy, a Johnny jump-up, a shooting star or an Indian paintbrush, when an authentic person is deeply rooted in the richness of gratitude for life, he/she is a presence that generates an attractive energy and a delightful aura.

So go ahead, let these hillsides and fields of wildflowers encourage your authentic self to bloom. Face the sunlight and show your true colors.

Reach for the heavens. Grow, mature and spread those seeds of sincerity. Bottom line — just be real. You’re beautiful.

From over the ridge and off-the-grid Michele Oksen writes her Mountain Musings column from the Santa Lucia Mountains. Contact her at
Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune