Before I begin being verbacious I will explain why I joined DA: to bring hope to fellow artists and casual visitors alike and raise the spirits of those of you who are feeling down.
If you have an inspirational story, quote or image that you need to share, or if you'd just like somebody to talk to, email firstname.lastname@example.org
From my website:
Who am I?
"The best portion of a good man's life - his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness."
- William Wordsworth
All you need to know about me is that I'm the (occasionally Fabulous) Little Flower, I live in the Flower Tower, I spend my days in front of the computer screen, creating posters and notes with inspirational quotes, and I spend my nights stalking (or rather running at a hectic pace to escape the chilly night air) across my neighbourhood, possibly dressed in a mask and cape, dropping said posters and notes into people's mailboxes. I do this all based on the same basic principles as Santa Claus, but the Man in Red made me promise never to reveal his secrets. I may be one person or a group of people. I'm also an Avenger, but only in my imagination and occasionally in my dreams.
I hope that rather jumbled and mostly fictional paragraph will suffice to throw Sherlock Holmes and his ilk off my scent . . .
Now, on a more serious note . . . I didn't merely create this page to discombobulate amateur detectives, but rather to give credit where it is due. Basically, this page is dedicated to my origin story, which differs from most origin stories in that it does not involve me suddenly becoming the heir to a large fortune, losing a relative and swearing revenge, getting mutated in a scientifically inexplicable way or joining the musketeers. Simply put, it promises to be more boring than your average origin story.
I've probably been interested in this type of (to put it gently) activism since the first time I watched Zorro, and even more so after watching the more realistic example of Amelie.
However, my first real inspiration would have to be the afore-mentioned Man in Red, or, at least, the real person on who he was based: Saint Nicholas of Myra. The historical figure was, of course, nothing like his jolly red counterpart: he was even more awesome! For one thing, he started his activism as a young boy. His rich parents died when he was very young, and he decided to share his inheritance money with the poor. But because Christian teaching instructs that "when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6 v.3-4), Nicholas could not let anyone know that he was the gift giver. So he spent his nights sneaking around town, dropping money into people's windows. He did eventually get found out (and ended up becoming the bishop of Myra while still a young boy). A little boy being able to do such amazing things inspired me to believe that I, too, could follow in his footsteps. Luckily for me, nowadays, people have mailboxes. I don't think they'd appreciate me coming through their chimneys or tossing things into their windows, especially not with my bad aim.
However, I didn't decide to put such plans into action until one weekend in May 2012. I was going through a rough patch in my life, which left me confused about my future. I prayed for God to show me which path to take. It was then that I first heard the full story of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. I have heard of the saint before, but all I knew about him was that he was young, Italian and fond of hiking. It turns out his story is much like Saint Nicholas': he was the son of rich parents, who weren't particularly religious, and who disapproved of most of his plans for the future, including marriage to an average girl and entering the priesthood. Not knowing what to do with his life, he decided to give it to the poor. By day, he was a kind, athletic, friendly and studious young man, involved in charity and fond of hiking. By night, he became another Saint Nicholas, sneaking out of his house in the middle of the night to go to the earliest possible mass at his favourite church and giving secret gifts to the poor. He kept his identity secret for the same reason as Saint Nicholas did: he wanted his charity to stay between him and God. He died from Polio at a young age: he had caught the disease from working with the sick. During the last days of his life, nobody noticed that he was feeling sick, and he didn't bring it to anyone's attention because his family was mourning a relative who recently died, and he didn't want to add to their worries. When he died, his parents were surprised to find the streets full and the church packed for his funeral: all the people whose lives he had touched came to mourn him.
After hearing this story, my friends and I went down to the chapel to pray. I thought a lotabout Pier Giorgio. Like Saint Nicholas, he was just an average young man who wanted to help others, yet he managed to accomplish something great. As I prayed, I thought to myself: if he could do it, why not me? After all, there was nothing stopping me from becoming a superhero myself. It was at that point, in that chapel, while praying the rosary, when I decided to follow in Pier Giorgio’s and Nicholas’ footsteps.
Here I must point out that one of the factors which pushed me to become The Little Flower was my motivation to improve certain personal flaws. The most pertinent flaw in question is my lack of confidence in my ability to make good decisions, which, of course, comes with a rather annoying habit of asking others to confirm most major decision I make. I chose to adopt a secret identity because I wanted to have a part of my life that was only between me and my Father who sees in secret. Furthermore, I wanted to make this decision on my own, while praying to God, without the involvement of a third party.
Before I move on to the story of how I took action, I must first explain the quote written on the above photo of Pier Giorgio. It says “verso l’alto,” which means “towards the top” or “towards the summit” in Italian. The “top” in question is not necessarily a mountaintop, but rather a higher goal, such as self improvement, helping others, and, ultimately, getting into heaven. Recently, I found another quote that perhaps better explains the motivations behind my particular brand of activism:
I will make a commitment to fulfilling my dreams . . .
No matter what I may be feeling . . .
And I will dare to move forward
In the face of life’s challenges.
I will believe that what God
Has placed inside me
Is superior to the mountains
That stand in my way
- Lance Wubbels
And so, finally, I decided to follow in Pier Giorgio’s and Saint Nicholas’ footsteps and become a superhero. The trouble is that, unlike these two boys, I’m not an heiress with a fortune to give out nor am I willing to rob the rich to feed the poor like Robin Hood did.
Instead, I focused on my own gifts, talents and limitations to figure out what I could realistically accomplish. Here, yet a third Catholic Saint helped me choose my path: Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.
This woman believed that a person didn’t have to do great things to get into heaven, or rather that the little, nameless, unremembered good deeds that people do are in themselves great. This way of thinking is called “The Little Way.” Therese herself described it as “doing little things with great love.”
The following quote from Rev. John F. Russell perhaps better explains my relations towards this path than my own words could:
“Catholics and other Christians have been attracted to St Therese's style. Her “little way” seems to put holiness of life within the reach of ordinary people. Live out your days with confidence in God's love for you. Recognize that each day is a gift in which your life can make a difference by the way you choose to live it. Put hope in a future in which God will be all and love will consume your spirit.”
Thanks to The Little Way, I realized what God wants me to do: He put me in my specific community for a reason and he gave me my writing talents, my “superpowers” if you will, so that I may help the people immediately around me in my own little way.
When trying to figure out what sort of action I should take, I remembered a high school teacher telling me about the effectiveness and anonymity of poster campaigns, so I decided that I would start my activity by putting up posters around the neighborhood.
However, as you may have noticed, for someone who craves anonymity I am quite the drama queen: I decided I would need a secret identity and a symbol. The first was easy – I took the name “The Little Flower” from Saint Therese:
“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily
do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm.
If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness”
By following the Little Way, I become one of the violets and daisies of God’s garden; the Little Flower. I may not have the financial means or physical strength to cause a big stir and be a rose like Therese’s beautiful sister or a lily like Joan of Arc, but I, too, can make a difference that counts, however little that difference may be.
I wanted to choose a symbol that went with the flower theme. Seeing as how it was May, forget-me-nots were in full bloom. After some consideration, I picked them, seeing as how they have always been my favourite flower. However, that is not the only reason I chose them. I wanted little flowers to go with the Saint Therese quote that inspired me. I was considering daisies, but I decided to go with the forget-me-nots after all because they are symbols of remembrance. By placing them on my posters, notes and letters I am symbolically asking readers to remember my messages and the hope I want them to bring. I also felt that the bright colours are very characteristic and bold, standing out more than a white and yellow daisy would, making them more recognizable as my symbol. When people get one of my letters in their mailboxes, I want them to automatically associate the forget-me-not with a “Little Flower letter.”
All that was left for me was choosing a theme for my first poster campaign, a task which proved to be surprisingly simple. My theme would be hope. I was going through a fairly hopeless point in my life and I thought that perhaps other people could relate, so, on my first poster, I wrote what was in my heart. Writing this message of hope helped me dig myself out of the emotional rut I was stuck in.
I decided to hang these posters, the message on which you can view here, on the trees and sign posts lining my street. The poster I hung on the stop sign, which stayed there for a week, was my work’s crowning glory. I must admit, sneaking around the street at night doing my secret good deeds gave me the most pleasurable of thrills. Suddenly, I knew what it was like for little Nicholas to become “Santa Claus.” I was nervous and excited to actually BE a superhero, even if it would only be for one night. In my eyes, even if I were never to repeat the act, this was my night of glory, a memory I could cherish forever.
I must admit that I was found out the first night. But, rather than cause me trouble, the person who discovered me became a sort of sidekick to me, helping to keep my secret. I wish I could give due credit to this person, but such an act would reveal both our identities.
Note to Sherlock Holmes and his ilk: no one else knows my secret identity, and my associate has proven to be extremely loyal and capable of keeping their lips sealed. You will not get the information you want out of them.
The morning after I hung up the posters proved to be more difficult. Being a talkative and brutally honest rather than sneaky and secretive person, I was itching to tell my friends everything. But I kept it inside for the sake of preserving my secret identity. It was ever so difficult, but perhaps it was a first step towards gaining confidence in my decisions and learning humility.
Between May and September of 2012, I took a long break in my activism. Summer and its adventures came and went. September brought with it its obligations and responsibilities. But I couldn’t get the Little Flower out of my head. I decided to return to my old ways and, in the last week of September 2012, I began another campaign. I’ve been active ever since.
I’m currently active in my immediate neighbourhood and hope to someday expand my area of operation to the rest of my city, or at least a larger part of it. But for now I’m satisfied with playing my little part.
I’m still struggling with my lack of confidence in myself, but the Little Flower helps to keep things in perspective. I hope that maintaining a secret identity will teach me humility and help me learn to keep the good deeds that I do as myself between myself and God, rather than announcing them to others for approval and praise.
I will never know how many lives, if any, the Little Flower has touched, and, although part of me is extremely eager to know, another part of me tells me that it’s best not to know. All that matters for me is that I have done my best and followed my conscience. God will take care of the rest. How my campaigns affect others is between them and God.
Whenever I’m feeling particularly down, or whenever someone puts me down, I try to push away my sadness and swallow my pride. No matter what anyone does to me or says about me, I know who I am inside: the Fabulous Little Flower, a superhero.
Of course, such stories should end with some words of wisdom and concluding thoughts. Now, I’m not exactly a fountain of wisdom, but, if there’s any thoughts I want to leave you with, it would be these: if you have a dream, no matter how incredible, unlikely, strange, small, insignificant, or unattainable it might seem, reach for it. If someone like me can be a superhero, anyone can, including you. If you don’t have hope in your heart, stop focusing on the big piece of your life that’s missing; focus instead on all the small pieces that are in their place. This will make the missing big piece seem smaller in perspective. If you do have hope in your heart, share it. Not everyone has food, money, time, and energy to spare, but everyone has a little spark of hope. Pass your hope on to others and turn that spark into a flame.