Monday, September 07, 2009

Surviving the Recession Drought

I don’t suspect that I will ever look at nature with the ego-dissolving spiritual intensity of Eckhart Tolle or his Transcendentalist predecessors, but I do enjoy the meditative solitude of being out in nature and am often inspired by it. And so yesterday, I decided to fully enjoy an hour-long hike. In that brief outing, I did have some remarkable revelations. First, I realized that though I have now been exercising regularly (thanks, Craig), I have a long way to go if I want to tackle steep inclines at a brisk pace. But more significantly, I was inspired by the mostly dry and dead vegetation. Brown and tan weeds abound throughout the hills of Southern California in the summertime, a side-effect of the sunny and cloud-free climate that otherwise makes the area so popular. Though these dead and brittle weeds are more likely to spark up in flames than to spark inspiration, yesterday I noticed something remarkable. While most of the plants looked dead, some plants somehow remained green in the midst of a drought-arid season. How can it be that these plants thrive while their immediate neighbors are dying from an unfavorable season? What made these plants better adapted to handle the harsh environment that they were planted in? Were they merely fortunate to have had their seeds land in a shadier area or somewhere closer to the water table, or was it more that they had the proper genetic make-up to flourish?
These same questions can be applied to people in a recession economy. With less wealth, many jobs have dried up. And many who still have jobs are feeling the stress of pending layoffs and carrying the slack of a lean workforce. Having access to a rainmaker might be nice right about now in this economy, but let us remember: we are not plants. Unlike plants, we do not need to be rooted in an environment that does not allow us to thrive. And not only can we move, but we also have potential to adapt quickly to our changing environment to get more favorable results. You may feel ties to your unfulfilling job/occupation just because you have been planted there for so long. Perhaps you are afraid to move because for the most part, nothing looks better around you (there really was not much green on my hike yesterday.) Maybe you are feeling resentful at your peers who are experiencing success right now, while for you, every day is a struggle. Perhaps you have not discovered changes you might make in yourself that might bring you greater success with the cards that you have been dealt. So you grew up in a dysfunctional home, think you are too shy to network and market yourself, or you have always wanted to do something but are too afraid or just don’t know how to start. How far can the apple travel from the tree? How much can you grow, adapt, and learn? And what changes/adaptations might you strive for so that you can flourish?
And maybe it is most important to appreciate things already in you that can make life favorable. What is unique and special about you? What things have you done already that have rewarded you with achievement or success? Perhaps there is nothing wrong with you or what you are doing (or are trying to do) and now is just a test of perseverance and endurance. I assure you that soon after the temperatures cool and a few rains kick in, some of these same plants that looked dead yesterday will spring back to life, and begin to even flourish more than their neighbors who now seemingly have an advantage in the dry season.
Move, change, or stay rooted in persistence and determination: you have options. Though it is not always clear what option is best, whatever option you choose for yourself, carry with it a seed of hope and optimism—for that is the one thing that allows life to abound in any environment.