When we are faced with huge challenges, life may seem overwhelming. They feel like insurmountable obstacles: moving away from home, losing a friend or loved one, selling a house and moving into a new one, being fired, adjusting to a new job, struggling through an illness. The list goes on and on.
What I've noticed about such challenges is that each one takes monumental effort on my part. I have to dig deep inside myself and find new ways to cope, or I must polish long-unused skills to survive. When it's all done, I'm exhausted.
No matter what the difficulty, once we make it through and give ourselves time to rest and recover, we wonder how we managed to survive. We remember that neighbors, friends, or even strangers lent a hand at particularly grueling moments. We used tools to help us survive the next minute, hour, or day. We might have learned to use those tools from earlier challenges. We might have discovered how to use them out of sheer necessity and the overwhelming urge to survive. No matter how those tools developed, they are in our toolbox now, and they can be refined for all kinds of other tasks. They help us to navigate life a little more easily.
I thought about that when I was walking on a pathway beside the Animas River in Berg Park. It's a beautiful area of trails, brick walkways and benches that runs through Farmington, New Mexico, the city where I live.
I came upon a cemented area protecting two large metal culverts that let water flow under a walkway and into the Animas River. Nothing grows on that cemented area – except for one very determined little cottonwood tree. It had found a crack in the cement big enough for its roots to reach nutrient-rich soil.
What courage it must have taken for that tree to find a way to flourish! There are much friendlier areas where it could have rooted. Some of those places are just a few feet away, but for some reason it chose that spot.
When I look at the picture I took of that young tree, it reminds me that I too can make it through tough times. Life eventually will get easier, more relaxed, even fun. If I make a list of all the difficulties I have faced in one column and all the good times I've experienced in another column, there are many more good times than difficulties. Thank goodness!