Resiliency & Resourcefulness Lessons from a Trail Hike

I love the Don Valley trail system for running or just casual walks. The Valley gets pretty lush and vibrant at this time of year with our massive rainstorms, in spite of the sometimes oppressive heat of summer. If you’re observant, you’ll notice changes every week in the plant life. I like how, with the exception of certain areas of targeted management, the flora in the Valley seems to do quite well on its own. And that’s where we can get some useful lessons during a quiet walk.

Some friends in my Life Skills Coaching course recently shared a lesson plan with the class on mindfulness. They took us through some wonderful exercises and concepts, including an opportunity to experience “slow eating”. They also encouraged us to transform any daily activity with mindfulness. Personally, I feel that nature walks are perfect opportunities to slow down and truly observe the world around us.

I love symbolism & metaphors (although I could never keep the difference straight between metaphors & similes when I was young 😉 ). Through symbols, we have an opportunity to see things sometimes more objectively than is normally possible. This is especially true when evaluating personal & subjective qualities that we see in ourselves, or those that we aspire to develop. Walking along, you are sometimes taken aback at small examples of resiliency that you come across.

I believe this plant is called “dame’s rocket” according to the excellent site wildflowersearch.org

So I’m fairly confident that there’s no technical or botanical classification for a “weed” – that’s just a word we use to describe something that’s growing where we don’t want it to. They offend some of us. And yet, here is a symbol – nonconformity, creativity, resilience and resourcefulness. When you start to look at these plants from a slightly different angle, you start to appreciate qualities in them you may have missed before.

Typically, these plants are doing something different to make themselves stand out, to be noticed. They had to in order to survive. They also had to take different approaches to survival than other plants that get considerable assistance from others, including people. In a way, they took risks that paid off over time. They are likely more judicious in how they use their resources as a result. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. What other qualities do you think you could observe in these plants that would be inspirational in your life?

There’s another subtle thing you notice in nature walks. We’ve learned about “the survival of the fittest” from Darwinian evolutionary theory but there’s ample evidence now being presented that argues “the survival of the most cooperative” is just as important. You see cooperation in nature at all levels and it’s this symbiosis that helps contribute to healthy ecosystems. I’d bet that cooperation also helps to enhance the resourcefulness & resiliency for all individuals involved. Through support & cooperation, everyone has a chance to prosper.

I’m always thankful for and amazed at the lessons that present themselves in the most unexpected places.

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