What Do You See?
I have a fascination with the Saguaro cactus. I cannot climb its landscape, or swing on a tire swing from its limb, or lay under its canopy of leaves. No, it stands tall and unique, alone and prickly, its sharp, piercing needles representing our dry, harsh climate. The needles nor the trunk of the tree are flexible, but instead strong, immovable pillars. You do not want to run into one while trying to catch a football. They are heavy too. I noticed a broken arm lying on the ground next to the base of one. Curious, I went over to pick it up. This required very careful maneuvering because of those razor sharp swords adorning its realestate. It was all in vain, for the arm alone could barely be lifted from the ground. This new discovery caused even more wonder toward my favorite desert icon.
While my son and I play “First Cactus, Last Cactus” on our trips to and from town, I will create stories of my beloved plant. “Look at him over there, he is ushering us into this new land, smiling. Oh, but him, across the way, likes his solitude, you don’t want to mess with him.” I assign them personalities and stories of their life and what they have seen and their opinions on the whole matter. I wonder how much of my fantasy is true. Some would call me weird, crazy even. I like this about me. My childlike imagination adds meaning to simplicity. A drive out of town is suddenly an exploration into the vestiges of another living thing and its possible history.
What do you see?
I wanted to try a new trail on my mountain. This is where I can be very wise, for I chose not to discover it on my own. I have been known, on more than one occasion, to become lost for a few hours on a new trail. Getting lost on a trail in AZ in the summer is not advisable. We are hovering in 110 degrees and up these days, shade to take respite is nonexistent. Knowing my directional inadequacy and my inability to follow what I believe to be inconsistent, confusing signs on the trails, I utilized the reliable internal gps of my friend Thoughtful. We hadn’t hiked together before, so it was fun learning how he saw the desert. He would rightfully interrupt my longwinded discussions on various topics to notice any moving thing or interesting landscape that spoke to him.
The sun was lowering in the sky faster than we anticipated. I am not one for many rules, but I do have one: Do not hike in the dark. Reptiles move around and feed at night. This means snakes, and in the desert, rattlesnakes. You know, the kind with a rattle and sharp teeth and deadly venom. My greatest fear on the planet are snakes and any genus in the reptile family. Whether we invaded their time to do what they innately do at this hour, stay tuned.
As we began to hike at a quicker pace, Thoughful lived up to his name, pausing on the trail and asking, “What do you see?” He was pointing to the remains of a saguaro. They leave a dry, dark skeleton like carcass in their passing. Not expecting the question and wanting to join the depth of the conversation fully equipped, I hesitated. He continued, “Some people see death, I see rebirth.” He gave a better answer than I was conjuring, and I liked it. I liked that he saw life and renewal, rather than the obvious indications of death. He went on to describe the beauty of nature, replenishing itself. Our discussion made me very happy. Upon meeting, he had been carrying a lot of heavy resentment and pain from his past. My vibrant living ways and wisdom on how I achieved such a life, really helped him release some of those shackles. He, on the other hand, is profoundly intuitive, a gift he had shut down due to all his past pain, but is becoming more and more comfortable to share. He has been given the gift of visions and communications with what he would call his internal wisdom, able to call me out on my sporadic bouts of ignorance with laser sharp precision. On the trail, his natural inclination to see life instead of death in the ugly leftovers, was a beautiful indication of his true positive nature bursting forth into the world.
The brilliance of our discovery could not be dimmed, even by the rattlesnake laying across the path. We had turned our quick pace into an actual jog, and there he was, a few feet from me. I stopped dead in my tracks, horrified. S–t! Now what!!! Thoughful gently pulled me back. In awe, I watched how the rattler slowly slid back up into the desert foliage. “Why didn’t he coil up, didn’t he hear us coming?” I whispered, along with a million other questions coming from my fear, looking for some way to cope in order to have the courage to continue to get home. There was no turning around because we were actually nearing the end. To turn around would mean an hour and a half more in the darkness, on a trail, in the desert mountains, with more snakes heading out to feed. Somehow, Thoughtful led the way, and we walked past the place our little friend had been. I kept telling myself, “you have never seen a rattler on a path in the 20 years you have lived here, what are the chances of running into another one?” I remembered my exotic snake breeder friend who had visited from Chicago. He went out into the desert in the unchartered areas where people are warned not to trespass, looking for snakes. He could not even find one after 3 hours of intentionally searching. We made it home safe and sound, and I have another great story to retell.
What do you see? Do you see death or life? In every single challenge we face, we can choose what we see.
And when an unforeseen snake appears, do we calm down and respect it for doing what it innately does, plan more diligently, and stay off the trails at night?
Release to Unleash!
How do you see particular things in your life?