Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Splash of Color

Autumn 2011 was one of the most memorable Autumns since the Houston area became my home.  Everywhere the eye gazed, trees exploded with a cornucopia of color.  Reds, oranges, yellows, and innumerable shades unfamiliar to our mediocre falls flashed among the evergreens.  Every time I stepped from my home, my eyes immediately flew to the trees, eager to drink in the color.  Why did we have such a splendid display?  Because the trees almost died.

When I first heard the reason, I found it odd.  Why should we experience a glorious Autumn simply because Texas had sustained one of the worst droughts in its recorded history?  Apparently, the stress of limited rainfall over an extended time period induced the trees to show off their abilities.  I like the idea they were celebrating their continued life, the flame hued foliage playing the same role as our fireworks.

What I wish mine would look like.
Those of you who have visited my home have probably noticed the monstrosity of a bougainvillea nestled along the front walkway.  For most of the growing season it looms along the entryway, long tendrils reaching lush foliage along the house.  Unfortunately, it only blooms in the fall and I am constantly battling it to bloom sooner.  The way to generate early blooms?  Chop the roots and deprive it of water.  After enough time, the poor plant thinks it is going to die and it shoots out blooms as a last ditch effort to propagate.  Of course, the responsible gardener will never take it too far, preferring the colorful blooms to an over-stressed pile of dying vines.

How many of us have experienced similar circumstances?  Deprived of that which sustains us, the universe will frequently present seemingly insurmountable challenges.  Regardless of who you are, being dumped into the crucible happens from time to time.  Look to the trees for answers.  

I recently watched the 1997 Michael Douglas thriller The Game.  Douglas plays the perfectly uptight, super rich, power driven, A-hole he seems to have mastered in many film roles.  His character is given a “game” as a birthday present which throws him into a series of scenarios challenging the very core of his personality.  Through the drama, he is stripped bare; everything he holds dear is taken from him until he has nothing.  It is only then that the game ends, returning everything to a man who has an amazing new perspective on life and a fresh appreciation for the people who share his experience.

While I have never experienced anything as extreme as the character in The Game, my front door bougainvillea, or the Texas trees, I know the universe has thrown me into some tough situations before.  While in the free fall to the bottom, I surely had a difficult time keeping my eyes on the positives.  Hopefully there isn’t a next time, but if there is, I will be sure to recall the lessons learned from the 2011 drought.

Stressful situations will appear in our lives.  We will experience challenges.  We will fail.  We have to know that we will always rise again.  Shake off the shackles of negativity and embrace life.  Follow the example of the trees and celebrate your resurgence with a splash of color.

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