Start tomorrow

“Next time you come to visit you must come and see the daffodils before they are over”, Carolyn said.

“I will come next Tuesday”, she promised her daughter.

Tuesday arrived and it was cold and wet. Not aware of what the fuss was about, the mother wanted to turn the car around.

“Forget the daffodils, Carolyn. The road is invisible in the clouds and fog.”

Her daughter smiled calmly and said, “It’s all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.”

After about 20 minutes, they turned down a gravel road. A hand lettered sign said “Daffodil Garden”.

They walked down the path and turned a corner. The mother looked up and gasped. Before her lay the most glorious sight she’d ever seen. Five acres of flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns. There were daffodils are far as the eye could see.

“But who has done this?”, she asked her daughter.

“It’s just one woman,” her daughter said. “That’s her home, up here.”

They walked up to the house.

On the patio was a poster. “Answers to the questions I know you are asking” was the headline.

The first line read: “50,000 bulbs.”

The second: “One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and a very little brain.”

And the third: “Began in 1958.”


This story was originally told by Joroldeen Edwards in her book Celebration. Jaroldeen named this “The Daffodil Principle”: the life-long pursuit of moving towards goals and desires one step at a time.

I love this story because it illustrates a point that I think we all internally grasp, but so few of us follow.

We get caught up in the frenzied pace of life, trying to achieve as much as we can in the shortest time possible. And then when we fail to meet our goals, we give up.

Simply put: we over estimate what we can achieve in a week and underestimate what we can achieve in a year or a decade.

Sometimes, the biggest changes we can make are by consistently making small, incremental steps every day. Bulb by bulb, year after year.


The mother was suddenly overwhelmed. She felt a tinge of sadness. “What could I have accomplished if I had a wonderful goal forty years ago and worked away at it year after year?”

“Start tomorrow,” her daughter replied.

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This entry is part of the 30 Day Writing Challenge, where I'm trying to write and publish every day during April. All my posts in this challenge can be found here.

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Marc Jenkins

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