The Beauty of Regrowth
Beauty from ashes can happen. I’ve always liked seeing nature after a wildfire. I love the contrast of the burnt trees with the new bright green growth. It just speaks to me. I love seeing how nature just keeps going and growing.
When I see one of these scenes, I usually I think, “Oh, it’s been a year or two, look how it’s growing back! Nature is amazing!” But, recently was the first time that I have had a timeline to consider.
My family spent a week in Mesa Verde National Park. There have been many fires throughout the park over the years, and there are signs posted here and there, citing the name and year the fire took place. We spent most of a day hiking and exploring Wetherill Mesa.
Pretty much the whole Mesa is a graveyard of burnt trees. The sign posted says “Pony Fire 2000.” It has been almost 23 years since a fire engulfed life on the mesa.
Regrowth Takes Time
That put things into perspective for me. Regrowth and recovery from a destructive wildfire takes time. A looooooong time. Does Nature complain? Nope. Nature has patience and just keeps going.
Now, years later, the charred corpses of trees are still standing all over the land. But, they aren’t alone. Regrowth and recovery are taking place. Low-lying plants like sagebrush, cactus, yucca, agave, thistle, mullein, and desert grass cover the ground. Some oak and juniper trees are starting to grow, but they are still very very small. Some animals have returned and found places to live. It’s far from a full recovery and regrowth. But, slowly, progress is being made.
Healing Takes Time
This made me think of my betrayal charred mesa, and the recovery path that I am on. Unlike nature, I am not patient. I am quite the opposite and don’t want to wait for growth and development. I just want to be “better” with a quick fix.
When I first started SAL 12 Step, I remember thinking, “Okay, if we work on one step, one night a week, then we’ll be done in 3 months!” How naive I was! Thinking that 26 years of addiction and 13 years of betrayal would resolve in 12 weeks! But at the same time, I now think, “It’s been 3 years, shouldn’t I be fine?” Sometimes I am fine, but sometimes I get blindsided by something I didn’t expect to trigger me or I fall back into unhealthy coping mechanisms.
And often, I think, “I thought I was past this point.” I feel like after this much time that I should be a flourishing forest instead of a cemetery of dead trees. But really, a flourishing forest takes lifetimes to grow.
So does recovery. Real recovery, real growth, and real change take time, patience, and consistent effort.
Beauty From Ashes
When I look at my mesa, it is still charred. But, if I look close enough, I can see new growth and how I’ve developed greater compassion for others, as well as for myself. I am a lot less judgemental than I used to be. The seedlings of humility, vulnerability, and courage are now visible. My self-respect and self-identity are becoming stronger. I am finding my voice. There really is so much growth in so many areas, if I just look for it.
There Really Can Be Beauty From Ashes
Is it slow? Yes. But, it’s happening. And that’s what matters. Just like Witherill Mesa, my growth and change will take time. Very likely, a lifetime or more. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I just have to be patient and see the progress and growth that I am making.
There is beauty in the process.
It works when I work it. And I’m always and forever worth it. (You are too).
(Submitted by Jenna G.)
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