16 January 2012

Valley of Death

My wife and I once spent a few days at Death Valley.  It’s a pretty amazing place, full of things that you simply won’t find elsewhere in the world.  It’s been a truly unique experience, one that will stick with us for a very long time.

I think that what I most like about this place is the way that you can find life in some of the most unlikely circumstances.  Bushes and flowers literally grow out of rocks, getting the nutrients that they need from miniscule amounts of soil that fill the cracks of the rocks.  Lizards and snakes and insects thrive in places that seem too inhospitable for any life to exist at all, much less thrive.  Coyotes and kit foxes and kangaroo rats and rattlesnakes make lives for themselves in situations that seem to be impossible for any life to continue at all.  Even the pupfish has adapted over many years to be able to exist in salt water rather than fresh, which is really the only water they can find here.

It heartens me to see the survival in harsh conditions here, for I know that many of my fellow human beings find themselves regularly in situations that are just as harsh as the physical environment here, and that are just as hard to survive in as blistering heat and a lack of natural resources.  Life is resilient; living things are resilient, and as long as there are coyotes living here in Death Valley, there’s hope for any living thing, anywhere, not just to survive, but to thrive.  The survival against the odds of the many different creatures here makes it clear that surviving against the odds is possible for us all, no matter what our situation.  Things may look impossible, but appearances most definitely can be deceiving.  Just ask the lizards that I saw today in Mosaic Canyon, an area seemingly devoid of life except for a few plants here and there.  Somehow those lizards find the means for survival, even if those means aren’t immediately obvious or even visible.  They find water in waterless regions, and they find food in areas with no food available.

The desert is an amazing place, for almost everything that lives here does so against the odds.  So if I want to thrive, if I want to succeed at something that other people haven’t succeeded at, then I can do so against the odds, also.  All I need to do is find the means to do so, to find the means to do what seems impossible.  The means are there.  I just have to take the time to look for them, and I have to find them.  They are there already.

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