|White Oak (Quercus Alba) in the Friendship Garden USNA|
But there is a price to prolonged exposure to stress-- on plants or on people--be it drought, flood, fear or famine --even when we survive, we have scars to show for it. The Ginkgo survived but its second set of leaves are smaller, and next year they will be small again. Over time this can weaken the tree because the less green surface area on the leaves, the less energy it can produce. If the next few summers are more hospitable the Ginkgo should catch up, but if the stress is prolonged year after year, the Ginkgo will decline. It will forget how to fully embrace it's environment and eventually it will die. Humans are this way. We have memory of pain and then fear of more pain. As a survival technique, we teach ourselves the best ways to avoid pain. This weakens us in the long run too because the more stress we sustain, the less likely we are to throw our hearts out there and really be able to thrive.
Survival is key, and we should applaud ourselves for getting through rough times....but there is more for us. We need to thrive as opposed to just maintain the status quo. Thriving is crucial for personal achievement, for breaking the mold, for having a life and relationships that are exceptional. Plants "turn-on again" as soon as the conditions allow it. They re-grow their leaves, produce flowers and seed because they know that thriving is essential to increase their species. Nature is harsh and the fittest survive. When we turn parts of ourselves OFF in order to survive in difficult times, it's important we find a way to turn-them-back-on once it's safe to start thriving again. If we can't-- if we don't--we will not get to experience growth --we will not be fulfilled.