With temperatures consistently above 110 degrees in June, Arizona offers a warm welcome to those brave enough to visit during the summer months. After your first complaint, Arizona residents are quick to follow up with, “but it’s a dry heat.” Yes, yes, it is and so is an oven. When you can fry an egg on the sidewalk (which I have done successfully) and listen to your skin sizzle like bacon, you too will agree, it’s hot. While this climate can be unforgiving during the day, the desert offers three unexpected reminders that teach powerful lessons on personal growth.
Saguaro Cactus Blossom: There is little else that can compare with a hike through the mountainous desert only to find local wildflowers or better yet, cacti in bloom. Cactus is a prickly plant not unlike many of us from time to time. However, if you are patient and take time to look, once a year, cacti produce beautiful flowers that generally last no more than twenty-four hours. These flowers have a sweet fragrance and along with them provide a reminder that while the plant is covered with dangerous spines, every year it also offers beautiful flowers.
At times, life can be very much like the spines on a cactus. There are challenges we have to face and overcome. Eventually, the lessons we learned along the way offer rewards and a satisfaction that we would never have experienced if it weren’t for the struggles. The next time you see a cactus in the middle of the hot desert, just remember that once a year a beautiful flower blooms to remind us that we are stronger because of what we endured.
Creosote Bush: This plant has many characteristics that allow it to adapt to the harsh environment. The creosote bush is common throughout western North America and if you have spent any time in Arizona, you probably saw several of them. The creosote bush is unique because over time it has developed qualities that allow it to outcompete other desert plants given the right opportunities. One of its adaptable characteristics is the ability to grow in various shapes depending on its needs and based on its surrounding.
For example, a creosote bush can grow in a cone shape to allow limited rain water to travel down the center to its core root structure to better absorb moisture. The creosote bush can also grow in an upside-down bowl shape which offers protection to other plants and animals. The plants and animals provide the creosote bush with increased nutrients for the surrounding soil. The second characteristic is less about adaptability and more just my favorite. After a punishing heat, there is nothing more refreshing then a desert rain. The creosote bush contains a variety of oils that produce an intoxicating smell following a monsoon downpour.
Just like the creosote bush, we all need to adapt to our environments. Everyone encounters times when we dream of something more than what we have and it is not selfish. We desire to improve professionally, work harder on personal relationships, or (gasp) focus on bettering ourselves. It requires an honest and humbling look into our own lives and an admission that we are not perfect. The creosote bush is not pretty. It is unassuming and very much looks like a weed. However, it embodies a determination to survive even in the most unpleasant of circumstances. The creosote bush is able to adapt to its environment and thrive because it seeks out opportunities to use what it has to make a positive impact.
Sunsets: Keeping Arizona calendar companies in business one picture at a time. To some people, the desert is beautiful. To others, it is a landscape filled with shades of brown dirt that offers a home to lizards, scorpions, and jumping Chollas (another one of the deserts fun jokes). However, after a long day full of hot sunshine, you can look up and see a desert sky painted in hues of red, orange, and purple. Arizona sunsets offer a healing beauty all their own. Every sunset is different based on the amount of light filtered by the atmosphere and the size of the particles floating around in the air. They are a reflection of the day that is coming to a close.
Sunsets are unique and their coloring is dependent on a variety of external factors. We are much the same way. Our outlook on life, opinions, and perspectives are shaped by external forces and how we process this information. We are all flawed and imperfect. Likely, many of us reflect on our day and can create a list of all the things we could have handled better, approached differently, or responded to more thoughtfully. At the end of the day, the beauty of our lives rests in the reflection we see. We should not strive to be perfect, but we should challenge ourselves to be a better version tomorrow.
Arizona is not my favorite place to live, but it holds some people, experiences, and characteristics that have shaped who I am and would never trade. The desert teaches me new lessons every time I visit. We need to look past the spines to see the flowers, look beyond the weeds to see the refuge, and look through the dust to see the beauty. In the middle of what some consider scorched earth are reminders of the dreams that become realities when the strength of human spirit adapts to a harsh environment and, ultimately, becomes better in the end.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~ Mark Twain
What renews your spirit and makes you better?