I’m in Arizona this week; quite a change from Florida, where I have lived since 1989. Nonetheless, the landscape is comfortably familiar to me, as I am a native of the high desert in California.
I am visiting during monsoon season. It is marked by torrential downpours, flash floods, and the most amazing thing that happens in the desert. As my mother pointed out,
“It is always Spring again after the rain.”
This phenomenon provides a beautiful glimpse into the human spirit.
I see rain as one facet of what makes plants grow, just as encouragement is one facet of what nourishes the human spirit. When a plant is without rain, it begins to wither, just as the human spirit withers without authentic, positive support.
There are plants, and people, who have adapted to long, dry spells.
In the plant world, they are called succulents. These plants take whatever nourishment they can get and store it inside them. They are specially adapted to hold on to whatever moisture comes their way, and are often armed with thorns to protect themselves from birds and animals that would try to feed on that stored nourishment.
Are you making the human connection? How many ‘thorny’ people do you know? Have you noticed that they hoard good words and are very stingy about saying nice things to and about others?
There is another characteristic of succulents that is strikingly similar to humans. When it rains (when positive acknowledgment finally makes it through,) the plant blooms like crazy. This is why my mother says it’s always spring again when it rains in the desert.
These plants are so adapted to living in a harsh environment that they refuse to produce anything until they get enough moisture to do so (remind you of those ‘thorny’ people?) However, once the moisture is pulled up into the plant, they begin to flower, produce fruit, and give back to their environment.
In the same manner, when the human spirit begins to receive genuine nourishment, it blooms, produces fruit, and regains the ability to give.
As analogies will, at this point the human spirit/desert plant analogy breaks down.
Unlike plants, the human spirit cannot be overwatered.
There is a belief that children will be ‘spoiled’ if given ‘too much’ encouragement. The reality is that when the human spirit is given genuine and authentic acknowledgment, it blooms with creativity, acceptance, and love.
Authentic, positive support does not spoil the human spirit. Lies spoil the human spirit. There is a world of difference between saying something is okay when my heart is full of resentment, and saying something is okay when my heart is full of acceptance and love.
Acknowledgment works the same way. If I tell someone that I really appreciate their work when I believe the work has no value, my tone, posture, and energy will convey that, no matter how well I practice sounding sincere. This is tantamount to pouring poison on a plant. Inauthenticity causes the human spirit to withdraw and contract.
Authentic, positive support nourishes the human spirit so it can grow, become creative, and love.
Authentic, positive feedback is like rain for the soul. I encourage you to go rain in someone’s life today. You might even want to start with your own! Happy Spring, again!