Desert Wonderland


I've spent a lot of the last year or so in unstable situations. Nothing has ever been dangerous, and for that I'm grateful, but for someone who works very hard to plan, strategize, and improve things constantly, instability is incredibly hard to deal with. I spend a lot of time working with the assumption that I can fix things, because in most cases, I don't really know how to move forward without that mindset. Sometimes though, you are in a situation with no real path to improving it.  Some chapters are about getting through them, not about how much you can make out of them. Some problems don't get solved, they just fade out on their own time. Some problems don't get solved because they're not problems-- they're conditions.

Learning to grow through acceptance and release is an ongoing thread for me. It is my favorite and least favorite lesson to learn. I am finite, my resources are limited, my situation is bigger than me. Not everything is in my hands.

Maybe it's my Aries sun that insists on immediate action combining with my Libra moon that constantly ponders balance and betterment. Maybe it's my anxiety disorder that demands some way to control a chaotic world. Maybe it's how incredibly fortunate I am to believe in myself and my ability to find some way to make things better. Most of the time I find solutions, but when things are truly out of my control, I have to step back from these impulses, because they only lead to frustration.

When I am faced with a difficult, long-term-- or unknowable-term-- situation, I meditate on nature. The planet is passionless and amoral. It is detached from assumption. It thrives or wastes away in exact accordance with the natural laws (when humans let it). I think about the ways in which my life mirrors nature, and how I cannot fight that, but I can find beauty in it.

Situations that are inhospitable to me are not necessarily desolate.

When this photograph was taken I was in a Botanical Garden with a friend and former colleague of mine. The things you see in the tropical room are very different than what you encounter in the desert room, but they are both teeming with their own unique forms of beauty. Each ecosystem isn't built to support everything, but they each support wonderful, different things. I've had so many reversals in the past year.

Sometimes life is a rainforest, teaming with greenery and an overwhelming amount of energy and growth all around you. And sometimes life is a hot, dry desert.

I often find myself contemplating what it means to be more like a cactus. How do I learn to store the things that give me life when it replenishes so intermittently? What spines must I grow to protect myself in difficult times? How do I create a sense of contentment in an arid situation? Where are the opportunities to find beauty and wonder in my own brittle and cracked geography? How can I learn to appreciate the strange and uncomfortable situations life can put me in, the way I appreciate this beautiful desert wonderland tucked away in Brooklyn?

I cannot control the climate of my life. At a certain point, things just are the way they are. When I cannot create anything more, when I cannot change the circumstance, when I must sit and wait for a dry season to pass, I consider the cacti. It is not always my time to thrive, but at the very least I can remind myself that nature isn't only beautiful in the lush, but also in its ability to endure.



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