Sunday, March 14, 2010


We all hear it from time to time, people saying that your failures can turn into your greatest successes. But when your standing firmly in the moment of failure, it's a little hard to see through the fog of what seems like your own personal earthquake.

In December of 2007, I visited the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden, in Santa Barbara, California. While there, I took some of the photographs that have been previously posted here on my blog. These include "The Grandfathers" and "Bridges of Transition".

In December of 2009, I visited the Garden again. When I wandered into the gardens that day, I expected to find everything as it was the last time that I was there, perhaps thinking it had been maintained in some sort of blissful stasis. I was very soon reminded that "stasis" is not really a popular idea in the natural world.

Upon entering the Garden, the lady at the registration desk informed me that there had been a fire that had ravaged the garden. Fire crews had saved as much as they could. The walk bridge it turned out, was lost. I asked about the redwoods, and she said that they had been saved.

I wandered through the Garden that day encountering burned objects here and there. Although most of the trees were preserved, their trunks were black with soot and charred bits of bark. The majority of the thick brush that was once there was now gone. As I looked up at the surrounding hillsides, the charred remains of trees and bushes told the story of the fire that had indeed ravished the entire area. No doubt, it was the efforts of the firefighters that had saved any of the Garden at all.

I'm in sales as an occupation. I've been doing this for years, and believe me, I know what failure tastes like on so many levels, including business failures, financial failures, relationship failures, and simple, silly things like dancing failures.

Perhaps that's why I had a strange attraction to this burned shed when I came across it that day. Doors hanging open, the paint all burned and charred. It looked like I think people feel sometimes. Even the stuff inside was burned, ruined and worthless. All around the shed the trees were burned, and charcoal littered the earth, intermingled with the wood shavings left from the cleaning crews that had shredded up all the debris left after the fire.

And then there was a little green bush growing there in front of it. To be sure, it was small, but it was green and it was Alive! My attention turned to the recovery of the garden around me. Nature, refusing to be locked in stagnation, is ever changing, and it was coming back! Shoots of grass were pushing out everywhere, little bushes were growing, and all around me was an abundance of life!

The beauty of observing nature for me, is that the lessons are real. We know they are natural, and that they are not the products of hype, marketing, etc. Thus, the lessons become important to us. They become a type and pattern for us to follow, to apply to ourselves and our own lives.

Over the next little while, I'm going to be working on a series of articles that focus on recovery and growth in the midst of opposition. We'll talk about thinking patterns, ideas for how to change, and I'll share some of my favorite stories and quotes centered around this topic.

To be continued . . .