One fine spring day I found myself perched high up a steep slope in a mountainous region of Arizona the locals aptly call the “Peacocks”. It’s easy to see why – the emerald blue foliage that dominates these mountains resembles the cascading plumage of a peacock’s tail feathers. I was there to get out of my usual routine of work and daily life, to spend time out of doors in contemplation of my purpose in the earth and getting serious about living it fully.
My tent was strategically located on a small sandy plateau surrounded by aromatic brush and thorny cactus. Through the front opening I was greeted by a welcoming vista of gentle, rolling valleys and mountains that went on for hundreds of miles. The mountain tops dissolved into the billowing, thunderous clouds, giving me the impression there was no division between earth and sky.
Despite the strength of the sun, the winds maintained crispness in the air and at times roared past my tent, drowning out the twittering conversation of native birds. I thought about my desire for adventure and travel, and how often I felt bound by the four walls of my home or office. Then came the waves of tiny nagging voices that clamored to be heard, naming all the reasons I could not have what I envisioned as my ideal life. I was not good enough, did not deserve it, was not competent …I wanted to shut those voices of doubt off forever.
I shifted my attention away from the raucous noise inside my head and looked out to the expansive panorama in front of me. I felt myself being drawn into the vastness, merging with the landscape. New thoughts arose in my mind…
“See these, plants, trees, shrubs and flowers. They have adapted to the environment and flourish. They don’t say, ‘Oh that tree is taller, better, prettier, slimmer, had it easier, had nicer parents, or has a better view.’ They are beings that know only to grow and be who they are. Their root systems, branches, stems, leaves, flowers and seeds simply acclimatize to the circumstances. They develop quite well. Even in the harshest of conditions on the planet, the members of the botanical kingdom determine to take hold and thrive.
Human beings have equal opportunity. We are imbued with the same life-giving spirit as the things that grow from the earth. It is in the rain, the sun, the stones, the wind and the soil. It is the force of life; the vast, invisible field of energy that flows through our molecules.
We don’t see a tree shrinking back and refusing to be a tree because it feels powerless or a victim. We don’t see the tiny pink blossoms on this arid mountainside refusing to show their beautiful faces to the sun due to issues with self-worth. Yet they exist in a harsh and cruel environment. They freeze in the mountain snow, go thirsty, cook in the desert sun and endure gale force winds. They barely cling to life on precarious piles of organic rubble scattered across barren stretches of rock. Who has it tougher than a flowering shrub on a high altitude, arid mountain? Yet here they are, magenta blossoms wide open, beautifying the scenery, glorifying their existence!
The trees and plants adorn our world, provide oxygen, food, fuel and materials we need for our comfortable existences. They don’t complain about lack of comfort or past deeds. They simply live and grow the best they can, giving all without hesitation.”
During the days and nights I spent in the mountains, the leafy beings around me were my companions and I felt blessed with their presence. They reminded me to feel just as blessed with the life I had been given, and any hardships I had tolerated were simply part of a story that had nothing in common with the indomitable essence of life that dwells within me as strongly as them. As they are unstoppable in emanating beauty, so can I be.