BY: T. Franklin Murphy | December 2017
Environments dictate the success and failure of life. We flourish when environments are accommodating. But humans can transcend this, achieving more than the world would otherwise dictate.
Living organisms have a knack for survival. We absorb the punches and continue. Survival is our badge of courage, displaying perseverance and remarkable resiliency. Environments can be harsh and unforgiving—but we adapt and survive. The applause sounds loud for the miracle of life. All life isn’t the same; some struggle for a single bloom while others constantly explode in color—they flourish. We should proudly display the beauty whether we display the purity of a single morning glory or the heavily weighted branches of a gaudy rose bush. Our blooms share our liveliness and blessings. The flourishing life isn’t expressed through accumulating successes but from our relationship with life.
We influence our environments but don’t control it. The surrounding unknown circumstances impact our growth in many positive and negative ways. We hamper our openness to experience if we under value the complexity of the encircling world and the unpredictableness of complex system contributing to life. We are challenged to exploit what we know and explore the depths of what we don’t, curiously gaining deeper appreciation for the living process of birth, growth, decline and death. Even the abundantly decorated rose eventually droops, dropping its beautiful petals to the rich soil beneath.
Flourishing happens within the natural boundaries of existence, extracting nutrients and resources from the surrounding environment and translating them into internal growth. Environments also contain toxins. Our relationships, employments, economies and governments provide a mixture of blessings and curses, sustenance and poison; not evenly divided or fairly distributed. This is the world we live in and the conditions of our independent and collective battles.
The stubborn Morning Glory, fighting terrible odds for existence, may represent flourishing more than the most dazzling rose.
We don’t feign health if health doesn’t exist but we also shouldn’t shamefully bow our heads when our mere survival is a magnificent accomplishment of human flourishing. So, we move forward, carefully approaching and wisely withdrawing, engaging life on its terms but responding on our terms, developing a resilient and skilled self to balance difficulty with pleasure, and knowledge with ignorance. We flourish.