And I'm slightly proud, and a little mortified, that I don't realize this very often.
I've been planning this post for some time, artfully weaving in weird friend accomplishments with thoughts on why we underestimate the greatness of the familiar and (somehow not awkwardly or abruptly) ending with my recent conservation award.
The artful weaving is not working, so I'll start, awkwardly and abruptly, by announcing that I received the 2014 Medicinal Plant Conservation Award from the United Plant Savers (click on the link to read about the award and some of the interesting work I do). My general response has been to laugh about it. It's not like you've been waiting with bated breath, "Who's going to win the MPCA this year? Will they announce at HerbFest or Prairie Medicine or at the Goldenseal Sanctuary?" and I have been involved with this particular project for fourteen years. It has never been my dominant research. Academically, I'm just super-relieved that we finally published a paper (available here. By all means, please feel free to read and cite it). The accomplishment doesn't feel major.
But that's the down-grading of the familiar talking. It is a fourteen year project involving over sixty students and rounds and rounds and rounds of shepherding several committees as the lowest ranked but most intellectually vested member of the committee. It's not as if I am going to be getting a lot of national awards. If I don't tell my friends and relatives about the one time that I receive a plant conservation award, nobody (outside of United Plant Savers) is going to know who won the MPCA this year. As far as plant conservation goes, modesty would be a problem. The United Plant Savers gives the award, not just to recognize innovation in medicinal plant conservation, but to expand awareness that medicinal plants need conservation. So I'm telling you as an ambassador for plant conservation.
But I'm also telling you because, in my observation, we overlook the accomplishments of those we know personally. It's a good thing not to go around in awe of friends, family and co-workers, but I think this sometimes leads to situations where "others" are doing amazing things and people we know are just people we know.
|Milkweed: crazy compounds but not yet scored with the assessment tool|
On a field trip, one of my students excitedly pointed out a book she thought I surely needed and I laughed. My advisor wrote Medicinal Wild Plants of the Prairie and it is such a part of my life that I assume everyone knows about it, like the way I assume everyone knows about my contributions to A Taste of Heritage (which has somehow slipped to #11 in Native American cookbooks on Amazon. I don't get any royalties if you buy it, but still, it was top ten a month ago!).
So take a moment to notice all the amazing things people around you are doing. Some of them are making period clothes from hand-spun wool. Some are singing in church choirs, starting cupcake businesses, making kimchee from scratch, running marathons or writing scientific papers. Some are healing, or dealing with addictions, wounds and heartaches. Some are raising kids. Some are caring for aging parents. Some are struggling just to get through the day. Many are the same people. All of these feats are amazing. Pause for a moment to recognize them.
Thanks for all of the amazing things you do.