[ Nature Lovers ][ Self Care ]

Looking back At 2020: Thriving In Adversity.

Disclaimer: This post is for entertainment purposes only. The thoughts and views pertained herein are those of the author. Enjoy! 

Growing In Adversity

We made it! 2020 is finally over and welcome 2021!

As always the beginning of a new year sparks reflection on the old. Not that this is a year that many will mourn its passing. 

The year is dying in the night; Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.” as the song goes.

Ring out joyful bells, I say! The death of 2020 is a grave on which many may wish to dance. 

But before we break out our sturdy grave dancing shoes let’s reflect on the year.

A Record Breaking Year

For those who like to chant, “We’re Number 1”, 2020 gave much to yell about. 

This last year was record breaking in the following areas. 

  1. World Wide Pandemic, and all that entails. As we’ve all lived, and indeed are still living this one, I won’t go on. Except to say, the toilet paper shortage was a surprise. Not what I would have thought would be the first to go. 
  2. Record Breaking Atlantic Hurricane Season
  3. Record Breaking Forest Fires not just for America but for Australia as well. In Australia the bush fires started in 2019 and dragged into 2020. 
  4. Record Breaking Voter Turnout. 

Other than the last one, these events are a loss of our semi comfortable lives. A disruption to the way we looked at the world and how we interacted within. 

Tragically it has also been a loss of lives as well. To which I have no words. Having suffered repeated loss of my own this last year I know how empty words can be, even well meaning. Losing someone you love sucks, no matter the reason. It just sucks. 

Now for the good news. 

  1. 2020 saw record breaking donations of masks and other needed medical equipment. 
  2. Communities banded together to care for people they have, and will never meet. 
  3. A quick search of the phrase “service projects 2020” has over 2million hits. 

People have come out in droves to serve their neighbors, communities, first responders, and others on the other side of the world! 

There has been an outpouring of compassion and a joining of prayer by multiple faiths. All banding together by mutual need, and some grief.

Many have shown true love through acts of charity, both great and small. 

We Are More Like Trees Than We Realized

In the late 1980s to the mid ‘90s there arose the biosphere 2. Now owned by the University of Arizona. This was an amazing experiment in which scientists tried to learn what was needed for a successful habitat for plants, animals, and human life to exist, possibly not on earth. The hope was for it to be completely self sustaining, even producing the correct balance of oxygen to carbon dioxide. 

What they discovered is that the trees started to die. They had no wind. Trees need adversity. 

They need wind and storms to help the trees to produce reaction wood, or stress wood. This reaction wood is what allows the trees to bend and twist to reach the light, holding seemingly impossible poses, and thrive. 

Other trees need more than just wind. 

Such as the Jack pine and Lodgepole pine which require fire for their seeds to be released from the pods or cones in order to germinate.

Fire! Now that’s adverse conditions. 

Philosopher Fredrick Nietzsche said “Out of life’s school of war—what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.”

While this may be an overused and often misquoted phrase, it still rings true. 

Who hasn’t gone through their own personal forest fire and not come out both amazed that they survived, and amazed at the strength they possess. 

So like trees we need adversity. We need our own stress wood to help us to reach the sun and dig our roots deep into the earth. 

But that’s not all we need. 

Trees need community. 

Here are some fun facts I’ve learned over the last year writing about trees. 

  1. Hub trees or mother trees help to organize, nurture, and instruct a community of trees and other plant life. They send nutrients to their saplings and to their sister trees. They also form communal links to trees not of their own species but ones in which they are mutually benefited. 
  2. The mistletoe is beautiful in it’s complete dependence on it’s host tree and it’s resilience in adversity. It is adaptable and hardy, yet delicate to behold, and has become a symbol of love and peace. 
  3. The bristlecone pine is able to survive by allowing parts of it’s older wood to die. Made me think of the parts of me I’ve had to let go over the years. Relationships, habits, jobs dreams, expectations, etc. Things that no longer served me but were still a part of me. But to survive and thrive, they had to go. 
  4. Chechem and Chaka trees often grow next to each other. One toxic, one the antidote. Life feels like that sometimes. A juxtaposition of joyful relief and debilitating pain. 
  5. The sweetgum is an almost forgotten source of healing. 
  6. Sometimes life can be tempting much like the manchineel tree. Sweet tasting apples that have an unfortunate after effect. 

As a global community we’ve seen it all. Just like trees we have our weaknesses but we also have our strengths. Which, unsurprisingly, come about through times of trial when we band together to look the storm in the eye and say bring it on! 

2020 Hindsight 

This past year I have learned that like trees, we need communities, we need reliable ecosystems, we need to ask our hub trees for help when we can no longer sustain ourselves. And that it’s okay to ask for help and to not always be the one giving the help. 

Sometimes, we need to go through a fire to learn about our own strength and to learn how to have greater compassion for others. To let our own tough seeds of strength and determination to germinate within us.  

I don’t know what 2021 will bring. Probably much of the same as what we’ve seen this last year, hopefully not to the same record breaking speed. 

Unless it’s record breaking in kindness towards others and courage for the future. That would be a year to live through. 

Happy New Years! And Welcome 2021!

Come what may!

 

Resources
The Role of Wind In A Trees Life
Strong Winds, Strong Roots
Fire Ecology 
Biosphere 2
Record Setting 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Ends
2020 California Wildfires
2019-2020 Australian Bush Fires
Apple Has Donated 20 Million Masks
2020 Year in Review
What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Stronger

About Author

Jenn Gaskin

After more than a decade in education I decided to turn my copious skills to writing. I have been freelance writing for Dancing Tree Gifts (formerly Sonora Kay Creations) since 2019. I wear many hats with DTG primarily copy editor, author, and web design.