adversity · anger · challenges · gratitude · growth · life · perseverance · perspective

Aesop was a Scientist.

Normal
0
0
1
487
2779
23
5
3412
11.1287

0

0
0

Chances are, like me, you’ve heard a hundred versions Aesop’s fable, “The Oak and the Reed,” wherein we’re taught to bend like a reed in a storm, instead of remaining stalwart
as an oak which will be blown over.
The moral is to remain flexible in the face of
challenge or adversity, instead of becoming rigid and unmoving. To move with
the times, to let things shift around you without trying to control them or how
they’re affecting you. To be at ease with how things are, because when the
storm does pass, if you’ve remained reed-like, you’ll stand up into the
sunlight again.
Yes, we’ve all heard this, and again if you’re like
me, you vacillate between these flora’s coping mechanisms, flexible to rigid and
back again. Sometimes within the same hour.
However, one story I didn’t know was one I heard on
the little audio book I’m listening to now: The
Biodome Moral.
(Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with the Pauly Shore
movie, but it’s valuable nonetheless.)
Scientists in the 80s, the book reports, created a perfect
replica of Earth and Earth’s atmosphere within a dome. They then sent 8
scientists into the dome to live there for 2 years. Among their findings was
what happened to the trees.
Inside the dome, there was no wind and no storms. The
scientists assumed that without the challenges of storms to damage the trees,
they would grow taller and stronger and faster than those outside the dome.
Indeed, the trees grew faster and taller. But not stronger.
The trees were weak, and easily uprooted. The scientists
discovered that the trees needed the challenge of the storms, of withstanding the storms, in order to become strong and healthy.
By eliminating all adversity from their lives, they became big and tall, sure,
but they also became hollow and weak.
Remind us of any other species?
I am not an advocate for adversity. I bristle vehemently when told that adversity is “a blessing,” as I’m
occasionally told about my cancer.
Which, by the way – never tell someone that. If they want to say that to you, great; listen, nod, be compassionate.
But never be the one to tell them that it makes them stronger, never tell them
that there will be a gift from it, or that it is itself a gift. All these
things may be true, but fuck you, healthy person, for telling me to look
on
the bright side
of leaking out my ass for a
month. Even though you mean it authentically, lovingly, and truthfully.
I happen to know
these things are true. I write here that they are; that having had that
adversity has impelled and propelled me to engage in my life and in activities
that I’d procrastinated on; necessitated my creating new relationships and boundaries that
I’d been too scared to create before. Having had and survived cancer has
irrevocably changed the rest of my life and given miles of perspective to every
other storm I may encounter.
But if you haven’t noticed, sometimes we get tired of
encountering storms, and I’d really prefer for you to not steal my lemons to
make your own lemonade. — And I still wouldn’t call it a blessing. An opportunity, I’d concede. But I’m sure no one ever said: Bless me, father, with life-threatening illness. 
… I guess I still have some letters of complaint to write to the Universe’s customer service department.
So,
The absence of storms makes us weaker. But, the
preponderance of storms makes us exhausted.
To continue in fable-speak then, I suppose it’s appropriate
to quote Goldilocks on the merits of balance and the middle way. To endeavor to
create, withstand, be free from and grow from challenges that are not too big, not too small, but “Just
Right.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s