To fortitude, stubbornness, and chances

flower in concrete

Angela and I are walking back from lunch today, not too excited to re-enter our office. To be honest, we’ve indulged a bit in a little “life sucks” dialogue, brought on by the usual workplace angst. Both of us try hard to keep that at bay, but neither of us is perfect. Sometimes, despite our intentions, it creeps in.

Anyway, we’re within steps of the front door. And there it is.

A weed, poking up defiantly toward the sun and the sky despite certainly overwhelming odds. The delicate living thing is rooted tenuously in a tiny crevice between the street and the curb, surrounded by concrete and very little incentive to make a permanent home and “put down roots,” so to speak.

There’s no real soil to nourish and offer sustenance for any kind of happily ever after, yet here it stands before me, taking a chance at life. I resist the urge to tug its tiny roots out of the crevice and transplant it in the neatly manicured strip of obligatory grass outside the office. I know I’d be doing it no favors; it stands a better chance of a longer life where it grows now, safe from the notice (and the reach) of groundskeepers.

This tiny weed speaks in shouts, not whispers. It’s been forged by its environment and by its hardscrabble existence. The very hardships it endured just to sprout, to unfurl its leaves, to actually face the world, take a chance, and give it a go — those created what grows at my feet today.

I look at Angela and nod. For this little guy, simply finding a small bit of moisture in a crevice with a grain or two of dirt was enough. We agree: we’re a little like that weed … who we are today has been shaped by our life experiences and how we’ve handled good fortune and bad. It’s a result of the choices we’ve made and the countless people who’ve served as the bits of soil and the drops of moisture that allowed us to take root and grow.

It took tremendous fortitude for that tiny weed to rise up, to take a chance on thriving even though diminishing is a very real possibility. The way I see it, if a weed can thrive in a thoroughly inhospitable environment, then I have no excuse for not doing the same, regardless of how marvelous or distressing my environment might have been or might be now. My choices, combined with the support of those who have walked with me, deserve credit for helping me sink my roots deeply into whatever soil and sustenance was available.

Here’s to fortitude. It’s something we all can use.

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