Around the corner from my house, however, poking out from a pothole in a sea of asphalt is a little green plant that continues to thrive despite the heat and traffic and lack of water. I am assuming that no one is going out in the middle of the street to tend to this patch of greenery, and yet there it is, healthier than my lawn could ever imagine. (Mind you, my lawn doesn’t have much of an imagination, but you get the idea.) So what gives?
Many years ago I cross stitched a little wall hanging that said “Bloom where you are planted.” Apparently that’s a biblical reference, but I didn’t read it in the Bible, I read it on the cross stitch pattern. And I doubt this little plant in the middle of the street read it at all, yet it has genuinely taken that message to heart. And so should I, I think.
I don’t have fast cars, good looks or a condo along the French Riviera. What I do have is a propensity toward depression, an underwater mortgage (not related to the waters of the French Riviera), and a parched and dying front lawn. BUT… my car’s paid for, my cats are healthy, and I have a roof over my head.
So I’m surviving. But what about “blooming?” What does it take to thrive? Living things tend to thrive when they are well-nourished and cared for. That would seem to imply external factors, relying on someone else to provide nourishment and care. The good ‘ol dictionary tells us that the word “thrive” means “to do well, to prosper.” The word comes from Old Norse thrifask, meaning to grasp for oneself... to clutch, to grip. I’m not sure how well the Old Norses thrived, throve or have thriven, but it sounds like something we bring upon ourselves.
How, then, do I grasp prosperity? Here are some brainstorming ideas:
Choose a positive outlook. I don’t hear the plant in the middle of the street saying, “Oh my God, that car’s going to hit me!” (I sometimes hear that from pedestrians I approach, but that’s a whole other story). I doubt that the plant really says anything. But I certainly hear myself coming up with some pretty negative thoughts quite frequently. I need to remember that I have control over what I choose to think. I don’t have to be Pollyannaish about life, but what does it hurt to choose optimism?
Look for opportunity. .If I’m grasping prosperity for myself, that means I am being proactive, and not waiting to be handed good fortune on a silver platter. The thing about choosing optimism is that it helps us open our minds to seeing possibilities. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and all that.
Leverage innate talents. Maybe I’m not a fount of brains, brawn and beauty, but I have a little of each quality that I can bring to the table. The little plant in the asphalt probably isn’t going to give us rose blossoms any time soon, but it must be a master at sucking up water at every opportunity. Knowing our strengths and using them to our best benefit will get us a long way toward prospering in life.
Never give up. Winston Churchill is quoted from a speech he gave in 1941 as saying, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never --in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in…“ What more can I say? If it was good enough for Winston, it’s good enough for me.
I have a lot of respect for my plant buddy. I drive by most mornings and always check to see that it is still there and still green. It has come to represent the notion that I too will make it despite the odds, that I too will find the inner strength and resources to thrive. It has not inspired me to water my lawn, however. The lawn has to grasp for itself.