Going With The Flow

Several weeks ago I sat at my desk gazing out the window at the beauty of spring and saw a number of those twirly things that fall from the trees like whirly birds go by.  I watched one in particular drift across my yard and just as it was about to land a gust of wind took it over the hedge and it disappeared into my neighbor’s yard.  I was so certain that it was going to land on my property and I remember wondering if it would find a soft spot and perhaps twenty years from now be a beautiful tree.  Then with a random gust of wind its path was altered.

I started to think about the randomness of life and how each of us at times has been both that flying seed and the gust of wind.  We are going about our day or minding our own business and a random event alters our path.  So you’ve probably heard the saying, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”  How many of us truly live like that?  How many of us are as happy if we land where we thought we would as if we land someplace entirely different.  Why are we so sure that the first “location” we assumed we would land is actually the best for us?  Maybe in fact the soil is more fertile in the neighbor’s yard and if we’d landed at our first “destination” we never would have flourished.  The reality is that at any time a gust of wind can take us in a different direction and depending on the conditions around us or the conditions within us, we may either take root and grow or just blow away.

The important thing to remember is that either scenario is okay.   If the whirly thing had landed in my backyard it may have grown into a majestic tree that would have shaded whoever lived in my house for generations to come.  Or maybe it was better suited to a yard across town.  The point is that these flying seeds (from Maple trees I have learned) are programmed to be adaptable.  I have seen little maples sprout in sidewalk cracks, gutters and other random “non tree” spots.  In fact, I recently wrote about a fallen tree I saw while on a hike.  The tree was completely uprooted, the entire root ball upended, or so it seemed.  But as I came upon the tree I noticed that though the entire trunk was lying horizontal on the ground, there were small branches reaching toward the sky with new leaf growth.  There must have been even just one root in on the side of the upended root ball that was still in the ground.  It seemed no one had told the tree that it had fallen, no one had told it that it was “dead” so it continued to do what nature programmed it to do.  It began to grow in the spring.  Even the smallest amount of water and nourishment was enough to send the signal to grow and the tree didn’t know it shouldn’t listen.

Similarly, these whirly birds can’t be stopped.  They don’t have the foreshadowing of doom that we as humans do.  When they take flight it seems normal.  When they land it is normal.  When they almost land and then take off again it is normal.  Wherever they finally come to rest, for some percentage of them, the soil and moisture are perfectly balanced to allow the seed to burrow into the earth and grow.  No one has to tell them what to do.  No one tells them that they landed in the wrong place.  For wherever they landed is by definition the right place.

Imagine if we existed by those same simple laws of nature; knowing that wherever you “dropped” you had a opportunity to flourish and create something majestic.  The shoulds and coulds would not exist.  How glorious to just be.  How magical to find the perfect conditions to flourish no matter where you landed and to know that if an unexpected gust of wind suddenly appeared, it would be fine and that if no wind arose that too would be fine.  It would certainly redefine a bad day or put an unexpected gust of wind in a new light.  Just for a moment each day, be the flying Maple seed and bask in the knowingness that wherever you are is just where you are supposed to be and that you can flourish anywhere.

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