Once upon a time, on a small footpath in the middle of an old forest, there was an angry little clover.
“I’m pissed,” he frowned, pouting. It was all he could think to say.
He had become that way when he realized that he was the only red clover in a field of green. All around him were his siblings, and they were all different from him. He didn’t want to call attention to himself, to talk about his problems with them. That would make it even worse.
They’d probably even make fun of him.
The problem with being a red clover in a field of green ones is that, if they do start to laugh at you, you have nowhere to run to. No legs, after all. Plus, a clover on the run is almost certainly going to attract deer. Especially a red clover on the run!
So, he sat there, stewing in his anger.
From time to time, one of his green siblings would look at him questioningly, one clover eyebrow raised. It was like they were waiting for something. This made him feel even worse.
After a few days, his thoughts went from anger to sadness.
We all know how that goes, right? We start out mad because we don’t like a situation, yet we're hopeful that we can change it with enough force. Then, if we come to believe that there’s no hope of changing it, sadness kicks in.
This is what happened to him.
“I don’t belong here,” he whispered to himself. “What am I supposed to be doing? Everyone is springtime green, the color of the whole darned forest, and here I am, red as an autumn maple. I'm... odd.”
As the red clover’s mind spun, a small tear that looked like dew dripped down his stem. Another idea came to him.
“I must be sick. They’re all bright and shiny and healthy, and I’m all weird and red and ill. I guess I was just born that way and now I’m going to die, soon.”
This made the red clover even sadder.
After a day or two of this, his discouragement became so intense that he closed his eyes and hid. This helped a little, but he knew that he was just avoiding the truth, which was that he was red as an apple in a sea of green.
When he opened his eyes again, he found several green clover looking at him again. This time, anger kicked back up.
“What are you looking at?” he yelled. “Haven’t you ever seen a red clover before?”
“Well, yeah, we’ve seen them. We’ve just never been so close to one before. We like you. You’re different.”
“You like me because I’m different?”
“Yes!” they squealed in unison. “We think you’re pretty amazing!”
The red clover smiled, a little incredulous.
“We want to be red, too," they continued, "but we were born green, like everyone else. Can you teach us to be red, too?”
Were they serious? It appeared they were, even though it had never occurred to him that he was anything but odd. instead, they seemed to think he was special. He didn’t know how to respond, so he just said what he thought.
“Well, I don’t know what makes me red, really. So, I don’t know what to teach you.’
“That's okay,” the green clover replied in unison, smiling. “Maybe you can take some time to think about it? You’re not going anywhere, are you?”
At this, they all laughed uproariously. After all, clover have tremendous senses of humor.
All that night under a full moon, the red clover thought about what might have made him special. He started to experiment with some ideas. Maybe he was planted into a certain kind of soil. It could be that. He also noticed that he was close to some river rock. Maybe it was that; they always radiated heat long after the sun was down. A certain enzyme that he had tapped into as a young sprout might have caused it, too.
In the morning, he had these ideas and a few others, but he wasn’t sure he could tell the green clover anything useful. Being an honest little Being, he told them so.
“Well, why don’t you ask the other red clover? Maybe they have some ideas!”
“I don’t know other red ones,” he said. “I’ve never seen any. As far as I can tell, I’m alone here.”
At this, the whole clover field erupted in howling laughter. He hadn’t even known they were listening. Oh, that silly red clover!
“Hey, Red!” He heard from not that far away. “Look over here!”
As he looked in the direction of the voices he’d heard, to his utter astonishment, Red saw a small cluster of red clover, just like himself!
They were spread quite tightly among the green clover, and looked vibrant. Did he look that beautiful, too? He could only hope so.
What he saw looked kind of like this:
Apparently, he wasn’t the only red clover in the world, as he had thought! It seemed that he wasn’t odd, after all. He was rare!
From then on, the angry red clover wasn’t angry anymore. He spent some time every day talking to the other Reds and found that there were many reasons a clover might show up this way to the clover world. He learned that each Red was so for a different reason, and that it could be any number of things. He had guessed this was the case a few nights before.
“How do I find out why I’m red?” he asked his new red buddies.
“You have to spend time alone and think about it. Mother Earth will tell you. And then you can tell us!”
So, that evening when the clover world slept, he whispered the sacred question aloud. He spoke to both the moon, which he loved for her softness, and the Earth, which he loved as his Mother.
"How did I come to be red?"
He spent the next few nights in silence, awaiting Pachamama’s reply. And when it came, he laughed out loud.
He was red because of… Are you ready?
Yes, a bird had defecated right next to him when he was small, and the extra nourishment had been so intense it had turned him bright red! Oh, you should have heard the forest laugh when he told them - and Red laughed right along with them!
After this, Red spent his time teaching the Greens how beautiful they were, too, and how unique each was in their own right. It wasn’t about color, after all. It never was, for any of them. It was about being the best clover one could be, no matter their hue. He was most effective at teaching this because it downplayed their differences and accentuated their sameness. Where, "it's okay to be green" might have been the message taught by one like the majority, "be the best clover you can be, no matter what" was Red's message to his friends.
Instead of an excuse to stay stagnant, it was empowerment to grow deeper roots - and this is something all clover need.
Eventually, Red came to know all the clover in the small patch where he lived. It turned out there were many reds, so his loneliness was only a matter of limited perspective. One that, once expanded, he never questioned again.