When you are surrounded by utter garbage, it’s hard to imagine or see anything other than filth.
I was at a building some time ago, one that I frequent. It is supposed to be a place of teaching and learning, and one in fact, that produces a number of stellar graduates each year. As I looked around me, my stomach cringed and my skin crawled a bit. There was garbage strewn on the floor, graffiti competing with soilage of unknown sorts and flies buzzing around. It felt miserable, a feeling which doubled due to the heat. I wondered, “How did they manage to function here and garner the kind of results they get?”
I went about my business quickly, making use of wipes and hand sanitizer on the occasions that I had to touch something that was suspect. When I left, I put it behind me as quickly and as best I could. It was later, as I tried to complete an assignment,that I was reminded of a story I heard a few months ago. It was of a rose growing and flourishing despite its harsh environment. I wrote the following thought down on a sticky pad: Blossom/ Produce Where You are Planted.
I mused about the various programs I watched in the past of persons who became successful despite extreme odds. There was a basic theme that stood out to me.
Be ‘rooted and grounded’: Be so firm in your beliefs, that nothing can shake your resolve. See yourself outside of your current circumstances. These people were able to dream and in dreaming, they remained firm in their resolve to get out of their current situations. They were unmovable in their desire to ‘get out of t/here’, a sentiment one might hear repeated by people who are faced with challenging circumstances. Their desire to be more than they were superseded anything that they faced. As a matter of fact, they channeled all that energy, and turned it into the motivation needed to drive them to work harder.
I live in a hurricane belt. Every few years we get the most terrifying of storms or hurricanes that cause millions, perhaps billions, of dollars worth of damage. I remember my first and how fascinated I was to watch the wind wreak havoc on trees and buildings. Some trees danced in a long hard fight against the wind. Some lost and were torn apart. Some bent and leaned in the wind, allowing it to flow over their bent bodies, but never breaking.
We need to be like those trees. When one is buffeted by life’s winds, we need to bend and curve ourselves at our strongest part. There will be some scars, of course. We won’t come away unscathed but will be better for the experience.
Be the change you want to see: The surroundings may not be what you want it to be, but that doesn’t mean you are to give less than your best every single time. Your best shot may be a game changer. Imagine, if you are at work, or in an environment of mediocrity, what will happen if you performed optimally regardless of the situation, without making excuses? When opportunity meets preparation, then it will be time for promotion. Not only will your reap your just rewards, but you may cause change in another by inspiring them to become a better version of themselves. This requires you to make no excuses, but to recognize and have an understanding of the season you are in.
Like trees, we will go through seasons. The environment may be harsh and dirty and awful but this is the time we will know what we are made of. There are seasons for storing away and preparing for the journey ahead. There are seasons of growing – when the challenges and the conditions seem their harshest but then that’s when the plant morphs to fit its surroundings. It sheds some unwanted, un-necessary things that will drain it and keeps only that which is key to its survival. When I was in high school, we did an experiment with seeds where we’d put them in a glass jar filled with water and newspaper. The chemicals from the paper was obviously harsh on it but the seed took what it needed to survive and grew into a young plant. Overtime, it sprout roots and eventually was transferred into more favourable conditions. Therefore, expect your conditions to become more suitable over time.
We’re just like the seeds. We are surrounded by harsh conditions but we can take what we need and shed the unwanted. Like the seed’s outer-covering, for a while we need a coat to protect us. But as time progresses, we transform and what used to affect us, doesn’t anymore. Our roots grow out and plunges deep. They run so deep that they pass through rocks and other matter that may prevent it from getting what it needs to survive: water.
Water your soul: There’s a song I love that reads “When I get weary, when I get weary, water my soul, Lord, water my soul”. Water represents not only sustenance for our body and spirit but also cleansing and washing. Sometimes, we need to be washed clean. That means engaging in activities that allows us to just, really, free ourselves, so we are less burdened and able to move ahead unencumbered. Find that thing that ‘waters’ your soul. Only you know it and if you don’t, you will recognize it once you search for it.
Find your source, your sustenance. Reach deep down inside and draw out what you need. Be that “Tree that is planted by the rivers of waters that brings forth fruit in its season”. Bloom, call forth that which is on the inside of you. Remember, that which doesn’t produce, becomes useless and is cast aside.
Be fruitful. Go produce.