Monday, April 4, 2011

Learning from natures destruction...

When looking at nature, the destruction and rebirth that occurs on a continuum, it occurred to me that, as part of nature, we really can't expect to escape this reality in our own lives.  And I suppose we wouldn't really mind the rebirth process as much as the destruction.  Forests grow back stronger after a devastating forest fire, animals adapt to their changing environments, mountains are pushed up from earthquakes, valleys become more fertile after flood waters recede, rivers change their courses after glaciers retreat...what if we could apply this to our mental and emotional well-being?  What if we were able to realize, before the self-destructive thoughts and self-loathing that comes when 'bad things' happen, that this is just a precursor to something marvelous?
The Great Lakes were created by the retreating ice.
What if the only way we can grow is to fail first.  That in being torn down by words, thoughts, and feelings, whether our own or from others, we could acquire the ability to be whole.  That if we were to stop fighting for perfection we would see our true calling, and perhaps learn to finally accept who we are, just as we are.  Perhaps we would become uninhibited and less judgmental and this would trickle over into our relationships and we could stop sabotaging our friendships with our constant comparisons and Venus-envy.  Maybe we would learn how to be happy for our friends when they find their own success rather then becoming catty and dismissive in a sad attempt to make OURSELVES feel better.  And maybe we would learn that the best relationships aren't those found in romance novels and movies but in real life, elbow deep in imperfections, complete with dirty dishes piled up in the sink and clothes still in in the dryer waiting to be folded.  

My dad used to say that to truly understand heat (the heat you can only experience in places like Death Valley and the Mohave Desert), you must know cold (as in 40 below zero when you walk outside with a hot cup of coffee, throw it into the air and have it vaporize before it hits the ground), to know pure joy is to also know despair.  Bliss/sadness, infatuation/disgust.  I have bitched and moaned about having been treated badly, abandoned, discarded, and left alone....but without those experiences I would not have found my strength or the joy of being completely alone, yet not lonely.  And I would have never learned how to be a friend, one who can feel total pride and elation when my friend succeeds even when I'm in the middle of my own crisis because, let's face it, not everything is about me.  

Nothing is permanent, yet we hold on to things, feeling, and hurts as if our lives depend on it.  And instead of allowing ourselves to grow and change we hang on, tooth and nail, even though the world is changing around us and it's no longer "good" for us to keep those things.  Time is a gift yet we wallow in the past and allow it to prevent us from moving forward.  We create the pain and disappointment before it even exists by assuming that nothing has changed and what has happened in the past will ALWAYS happen, again and again.  And by NOT changing, we tend to prove ourselves right.

Perhaps we just don't recognize these invitations to grow...we internalize the hurt, the reasons for the failed relationship, the loneliness, the disappointment instead of seeing what it really opportunity for transformation. 
Fireweed grows after a forest in destruction.


  1. I love everything you've said here, and it's so true. I experienced most of my flood waters, heats, hurricanes and glacier movement in my twenties, but it's made me who I am today. And I love who I am. :)

  2. You must have read my mind! I was literally thinking about this death/rebirth thing when your post popped up in my reader. I am at a "death" stage right now and as painful and scary as it is, it is inevitable. And yes, something marvelous is sure to come from it.

  3. @YumYucky, I also feel that most of my major catastrophes occurred when I was younger and I've either learned enough to deal with them now as "not such a big deal" or I'm just too old to worry about it all anymore. =) I'm glad you got what I was saying!

  4. is scary and while I don't know your situation I can tell you that I've been in some terrifying situations many times. About 5 years ago, in the middle of ANOTHER of these death stages, it finally occurred to me that I had already been through all of it before and I had not only come out alive, but I really was a better person after each 'episode'. So my mantra became "you've been here before and it didn't destroy you".


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