March 16, 2010: Restoring Resilience

Every spring around Washington, the cherry trees often remind me of when I was a little girl living in Boston. Looking out at the view from my front porch, the trees stood tall and anchored on both sides of the Boulevard, parallel, and sweeping inward like long, strong stems of green broccoli. In the spring, the long awaited cherry tree buds would invade the branches and green foliage with their pink and white, cotton-puffed blossoms, and the image of the wide picturesque path would convert into a scene of sheer allure. During that time, the average snowfall in Boston spanned beyond the height of a single car-door. Once the season of winter passed and the cherry trees blossomed, the community welcomed the spring phenomenon with great anticipation.

This year, the National Park Service has reported that along the Tidal Basin, several of Washington’s iconic cherry trees have been severely damaged due to this winter’s unexpected extra-heavy snowfall. A number of branches have been split and bent down to the ground, some still buried under mountains of snow, trees uprooted and canopies taken off. With our current speculations and obvious happenings, from floods to hurricanes to massive earthquakes, forest fires and higher than usual temperatures, it is clear that global warming is shifting our world. The massive wintery-mix that we endured will affect how soon the cherry trees will blossom this time around. Ironically, this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival is due to begin on my very birthday, March 27th.

Looking more deeply as it relates to the psychological benefits of nature, the cherry trees are resilient. So are we. We have an abundance of inner resources that we can use to our advantage to assist us in navigating through this journey called life. Resilience is one of these resources. Like the tidal basin cherry trees, challenges will often bend us, cover us with loads of discontentment and dent our spirit; but we must never allow these challenges to break us. Resilience allows us the capacity to respond to difficulty, change, even catastrophe, with optimism and maturity. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from obstacles or failures and to engage life’s challenges more fully. By consciously restoring the resilience within us, we can continue to cultivate, thrive, strive and deal with unpredictability and extremes.

Soon headed in our direction, like a shooting star, in just four days the brink of spring is certain to bring us powerful stability and positive change. If a single cherry tree can be so resilient, why can’t we?

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