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Adapting to Change: Taking Our Cues From Nature

Updated on November 20, 2017
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Catherine has loved nature and animals since childhood and advocates for sustainability and respect for all living things.

Although some changes go unnoticed, nothing ever really stays the same. Even though our day-to-day habits become second nature, the things we see and feel each day change our perceptions. The ebb and flow of the tides and the continuous sets of waves on the ocean may seem the same, but the surf patterns vary, and the sand underneath is randomly scoured away.

Consider the earth's natural wonders. They came from the violent forces of nature in catastrophic proportions: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, windstorms, glacial movement, and wildfires. The earth's mountain ranges continue to be formed by seismic activity and carved by glacial movement and erosion. Visitors flock to America's national parks every year to witness the breath-taking beauty of Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon, among others. These rugged places are living works of art which continue to change as nature intends. A major rock slide in 1996 and severe flooding of the Merced River during torrential rains in 1997 drastically changed parts of the Yosemite Valley. Recent rain-driven flashfloods did tremendous damage to Death Valley. These are examples of natural events made tragic because of its impact on man, developed areas, and the resultant financial losses. Older than modern civilizations, the giant sequoias need fire to survive, and the 5,000-year-old bristlecone pines get their twisted beauty from the extremes of nature which they are equipped to withstand.

Humans are perhaps the only species which works to resist natural change, but it is not our job to correct it. We are a part of it, and so it is with our lives. There will be conflict and hardship, but there is beauty and joy as well. We need to consider the big picture and not stress over its smaller parts.

It is late spring in my garden, and all around me is evidence of regeneration. The plain bulbs from years past and seeds that I planted in fall survived the winter and now yield beautiful and fragrant flowers. Bare trees have blossomed and leafed-out as have the roses that were severely pruned just months ago! I marvel at the innate instincts of seeds and plants in knowing when to sprout, bloom, and dieback.

As with our gardens, so, too, with our lives, change abounds! We lose old friends and make new ones. Our jobs may go away, and we need to learn new skills in order to adapt. Our bodies develop limitations with age or disease and force us to alter our lifestyles.

How do we cope with the unexpected things that come our way like the loss of a loved one, financial strain, divorce, and illness? They often bring such sadness and despair that we can barely manage. Yet, we do somehow get through these things, accept them, and move on. Downturns are a part of the cycle of life, and no one is immune to them. The anticipation of loneliness, fear of failure and emotional pain, and anxiety over the unknown can be paralyzing. Some of us may even limit our relationships and deny ourselves the joys of living because we are afraid of change.

Being hopeful allows us to roll with changes and move forward with a positive outlook. Think of the sun and how it sets each day and rises in the morning. Early civilizations had no scientific knowledge of the solar system and planetary orbits, but they worshipped the sun and moon and carefully monitored celestial cycles. Stonehenge and lesser places like it were carefully erected to mark the sun's movement, and rituals were held at times of equinox and solstice. In some cultures, the lotus flower represents rebirth. Following the sun's cues, the lovely flower disappears at day's end and reemerges with the bright rays.

The glorious flaming phoenix, the bird which emerges from the ashes, is yet another symbol of rebirth. Both resurrection and reincarnation are fundamental religious beliefs. The elements of nature have been personified since the beginning of human existence, and they have been the very things that continue to give us the confidence to face our transitions.

Recently, I had a visitor to the nursery where I work. She had brought in a potted patio tree for diagnosis of its poor condition. The woman said, "It was thriving until about a year ago when it began dropping leaves. It didn't bloom as usual!" After determining that the water schedule, light exposure, and fertilizer feedings hadn't changed, I examined it for evidence of pests and disease. There were no obvious signs. We pulled it from its pot and found that it was severely root-bound. When I told her that it needed to be transplanted, it's bound roots cut, she admitted that she feared doing so might kill it. Sound familiar? We do it to ourselves by resisting the inevitable!

In our lives we can become physically and psychologically "root-bound." We can resist changes, but won't flourish without them.
In our lives we can become physically and psychologically "root-bound." We can resist changes, but won't flourish without them.

For us, change is very much like being transplanted. We are taken from secure and comfortable situations and placed in others which are threatening and unfamiliar. Instead of resisting what is necessary, perhaps we should look to our natural world for cues. How do our forests recover from the devastation of wildfire? Think how the most beautiful places on earth were created from "natural disasters." Without the anticipation of fear, change can be a time of great excitement and energy!

When facing difficult downturns, allow yourself "a winter to rest and heal" while keeping faith in the spiritual "rebirth of spring." For those graduating, attending new schools in the fall, getting married, starting families, facing empty nests, or changing homes or jobs: consider our natural world and its ability to adapt in beautiful ways. It is the same with our lives.

© 2012 Catherine Tally

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    • cat on a soapbox profile image
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      Catherine Tally 2 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you, Audrey! I always appreciate seeing you and consider re-visits the highest of compliments. All of the best, Cat:)

    • cat on a soapbox profile image
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      Catherine Tally 2 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Bill,

      I have loved nature most of my life after having spent my childhood summers at our rustic cabin and roaming the mountain trails in So. California. Mt. Rainier was a great source of strength for me during my time at UPS. I didn't explore it often as you did, but I marveled at its humbling profile and chiseled beauty from my dorm windows everyday. Thank you for the lovely compliment. I am glad you enjoyed this! Cat:)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      I loved this Catherine--there is a lot of healing that can happen as a result of change--your metaphors work perfectly here

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love the spirit of this article. I have loved nature for decades now. Some of my greatest lessons were taught to me by Mount Rainier on backpacking trips. A good writer sees connections, and you did it perfectly with this article.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image
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      Catherine Tally 3 years ago from Los Angeles

      Good morning, Dave. Thank you for the thoughtful comment. I take it as a wonderful compliment! Wishing you a great day.

      Cat:)

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 3 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Nature is a fantastic teacher,and anyone who observes its changes and understands it changes, as you do, is much the wiser for it. Great read. Voted up.Interesting and useful

    • kimberlie33 profile image

      Kimberlie Kacan 5 years ago from Brooklyn, NY

      This is a really powerful illustration. It is true, fear of change keeps us from thriving and growing. Thank you for sharing this. Very inspirational.

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      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hello, sueswan,

      always good to see you here! I'm glad you found comfort in my musings about change. I appreciate your kind comments and vote up.

      Thank you! :)

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi Cat on a Soapbox

      Very wise and comforting words.

      Voted up and away!

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      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you, Deb. I hope you can convince that root-bound person to expand into new growing grounds! I am glad you stopped by and very much appreciate your thoughtful comments. :)

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      Deb Welch 5 years ago

      Perfectly said. I know someone who is totally root bound. God's Nature is so profound and rich. We need to appreciate it more. Useful, Awesome, Beautiful and Interesting. Thank you.

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      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hello, Audrey. Thank you for your kind comment. It is always nice to see you here. My best to you!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

      A beautiful and apt analogy--great write and so true!

    • cat on a soapbox profile image
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      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Peggy,

      I appreciate your thoughtful comments and am really pleased that you found comfort in my reference to God as the Master Gardener. I appreciate your stopping by!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What a wonderful way to think about the natural changes in life. Seasons of the year and plant life brings this discussion and thoughts down to a level where just about anyone can relate. And then pairing it with God...the Master Gardener of all is a comforting allegory. Voted up and useful.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image
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      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Pagesvoice,

      Thank you for your touching comments. In my younger years I always struggled w/ change but have since learned to change my perspective. I have felt energized by that! It pleases me to see how my thoughts here have given support and comfort to those who still find it difficult to adapt to the bumps in the road. I really appreciate your stopping by and am happy to have you as a new follower. My best to you!

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 5 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      Voted up and beautiful. You have given your readers a plethora of knowledge in accepting change, learning from it and even embracing it. Everything ages and it is what we do when faced with it that can make a world of difference. Do we sit in our little piles of sand and mope, gripe and grumble or do we move forward with a positive attitude and gratitude for what we have and where we are? I choose the latter.

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      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Kashmir-

      So nice to see you here. I really appreciate your nice comments and am happy to hear that you will be sharing these thoughts on change.

      Now crank up those Beachboys and keep smiling! :)

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Cat Enjoyed reading this well written hub, loved the part where you said change is very much like being transplanted,so true but many still don't like change and than wonder why they never grow .

      Hope you enjoy a wonderful summer as well !

      Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

    • cat on a soapbox profile image
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      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hello, Arb.

      I am so glad that you enjoyed this! I am always interested in your thoughts and appreciate your stopping by to comment. My best to you!

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      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Good morning, Gypsy Rose Lee! It's so true that the unexpected turn can be one of the most memorable and exciting. I'm still learning how to fully relax and rely on my faith w/o trying to seize control! It's an ongoing process and discipline :) Thanks for the nice compliments!

    • arb profile image

      arb 5 years ago from oregon

      "May the bridges we burn, light our way" Where ever we end up, will be the inevitable consequence, of detours, road blocks and signs that say "no access or dead end." We may not like the sign, but, it simply tells us which way to go. What a wonderful interuption! Beautiful hub, cat, a really enjoyable read. thanks.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and awesome. I let the Lord guide me through my days and yes, sometimes it's easier to just follow a familiar pattern but I've come to realize that on occasion doing things out of the ordinary to make life more fulfilling is exciting and I know the Lord will be beside me. God bless. Passing this on.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image
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      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Bless you:)

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Cat, I shared it on my facebook page and pinned it. :)

    • cat on a soapbox profile image
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      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you, TToombs! I would be happy if you shared a link to my hub. If my message helps by giving a person hope and encouragement, then it has done its job! I truly appreciate your reading and commenting. :)

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      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi,Rosemary! Sometimes we need to ask ourselves, "what is the worst thing that can happen?" Perhaps we will see that our minds magnify the fear to be greater than reality says it is. Our lives would be lived more fully, and we would suffer less anxiety. Nature is a great teacher, and God is our greatest guide. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I always appreciate you!

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      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      What a lovely way to describe the transitions in our lives. Fear of change often holds us back, but we often find there was nothing to fear after all.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      A very beautiful and striking hub. Many could benefit from reading this. Voted up, more and sharing.

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      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you,cherriquinn :) My best to you!

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      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you, Sparklea! I am glad that you like the analogy of being spiritually root-bound. It's always a pleasure to see you here, and I truly appreciate your insightful comments.

    • cherriquinn profile image

      cherriquinn 5 years ago from UK. England. Newcastle upon Tyne

      Beautiful hub Cat. Rebirth at springtime is inevitable as is healing. warm regards.

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Voted UP and USEFUL! Love your example of the plant being removed, transplanted...so it can grow, of course! and be FREE. It's so easy for humans to get "root bound" and to be afraid of change, of any sort. This is a great hub and I love the pictures. THANK YOU! Blessings, Sparklea :)

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      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Marsei,

      Thank you for your very thoughtful comments! I have had an emotional week with my own low points, so this hub came from my retreat to the garden and my musings/healing there. I am Cancer sun sign w/an Aries ascendant, so I can truly relate to your tug of war! I am sorry that you lost your mother at such an early age but smile at her insistence on planting seeds before she died. I'm glad that you found the wisdom and comfort in that. I am so glad you stopped by!

    • Marsei profile image

      Sue Pratt 5 years ago from New Orleans

      I so enjoyed this hub. As my writing says so obviously, I am interested in the psychology of living, being content, happy, etc. I think some of the things you said are so true, especially about renewal. Being a bizarre combination of Pisces sunsign and Aries ascendant, there is part of me that wants to stay home, read, write, work, and shut out the world. Yet the Aries wants to be out there in the middle of it all. I think the Pisces times are my times of renewal, sorting out where I'm going and coping with the current changes in my life. I'll always remember something I read somehwere and I have no idea who said it, "Change is not good or bad; it is only change." As with most things, it's our perspective. The renewal part of your hub and especially the flowers made me think of my mom. She died after a period of illness with cancer at age 53. I remember a months before her death, she was strong enough to go outdoors and plant shasta daisies in her garden. When they came up the next year after her death, they made me remember that all life continues in some form or another.

      I voted up and interesting and beautiful. You gave me much food for thought today.

      marsei