Bending in the Wind

Happy post-Easter! I had a great Easter. If the celebration of Easter is part of your tradition, hope you had a good one too.

While out for a walk in a high wind the other day, I couldn’t help noticing the flowers. Many were doubled over, their stems bent by the wind. Bent, but not broken. This roused my curiosity. Why was this the case?

Botanists have studied why plant stems can take the pressure of the wind without breaking. The vascular tissue in a plant stem helps stiffen the plant enough to take the wind, while keeping it flexible enough to bend and not break.

While searching the Internet on the subject, I discovered a new word: thigmomorphogenesis, which is

the response by plants to mechanical sensation (touch) by altering their growth patterns

A “mechanical sensation” like wind can cause a plant to change the way it grows. A plant hormone like ethylene also aids in this process.

Imagine that—change inspiring growth in a new way.

You’re probably not here for a botany lesson, so I’ll get to the point. I couldn’t help comparing myself to the plant stems I observed. When the winds of change come, I tense up, rather than welcoming the change as a catalyst for growth. Instead, I plant my feet—the very image of inflexibility. I’m not overly fond of change—especially change involving discipline.

Growing up, my mother used to say that I was stubborn. I preferred to think of it as firmly resistant. But lately I’ve also noticed that the more resistant I am toward change, the easier it is to be broken by an unavoidable change. Bending seems a lot healthier.

For those of you who are reading these words (and I’m grateful you took time to do so), please don’t think this post is a veiled attempt at calling you or anyone else out. It’s totally not. This is what I observed about my own life.

Since Easter is a celebration of new life, I can’t help being reminded that new life can mean a new attitude. I desperately need one. Because like it or not, change comes like the wind. I can either bend with it or break.

How about you? Do you bend with change or resist it?

Photos by L. Marie.

30 thoughts on “Bending in the Wind

  1. Like you, my father always called me stubborn. Over the past year, I’ve tried to become more accepting of change, but I can’t say it’s always easy. The most difficult is accepting that things so familiar to me, while growing up, are now a distant memory. Lovely post, L. Marie!

    • Thanks, Jill. When I woke up on Sunday, I had no idea what to write. So I prayed about it. This was the result. I couldn’t get out of my mind the image of those flowers in the wind. I’m just glad I took those photos that day.

  2. I think most humans have trouble with change. We’re not as adaptable as we think and there are some instances where changing holds too much risk. I’m actually thinking along the lines of ‘just move if you hate your house’ or ‘just quit if you hate your job’. Humans have this habit of casually suggesting big changes to others while doing whatever it takes to remain in a stable situation themselves. I’m saying this all from experience. I’m terrible at change since I get nailed by unexpected wrinkles all the time. Case in point: No idea when my series will continue.

  3. I try to bend with change, but it’s funny how much our mind–and bodies–like to resist it. The familiar is always more comfortable. Loved your analogy with the plant.

  4. I love change which offers up new horizons to explore. Change gave us a chance to live in six different states (NJ, VA, SC, NC, MD, FL). Change gave me the opportunity to switch from a legal career to running 2 different not-for-profits. Change allowed me to trade cold gray slushy winters for blue skies and palm trees. Change let me enjoy various hobbies, and pastimes.

    But most of those were changes my choice. When change is foisted upon us via death, illness, or accident, it’s a bit harder to welcome it into our lives. We may even resent it for taking away something or someone we loved. But what choice do we have? The what is, is.

    In any forest, at least a few trees are diseased and dying ~ that is the nature of impermanence, evidence of the constant change inherent in life. If we focus our attention exclusively on those trees, we miss the grand tapestry of the forest as a whole and our happiness is diminished in the process.

    Sometimes the best change we can make is a shift in our perspective . . . such as your goal to develop an attitude that allows you to bend without breaking. Good luck!

    • Six states! Wow!

      Yes, change due to illness (or even through the process of getting older as I’m finding) is difficult to embrace. I find I have to go through the struggle to accept the change. Some struggles are more ongoing than others.
      You’re so right about the nature of impermanence. We are in constant flux.

  5. Happy Easter! Great parallels, our church message on Saturday was all about new life (go figure) and fresh perspectives. Nature is a good and gentle teacher. I think we’re issued a Stubborn License in New England and it’s probably how we survive those winters. A little grit is good. But like you I’ve learned stretching is a must if we hope to navigate other kinds of weather that shows up. Now I’d rather stay home and write about my Stubborn License… 😉

    • That’s awesome, E! Growing up in Chicago, I definitely had a Stubborn License. The winters here probably helped shape that too. (Though the winters in New England seem harsher. They certainly seemed that way in Vermont, where I went for grad school.)

      Yes, stretching is a must. I so want to dig my heels in and avoid anything challenging. 😦

  6. Very beautiful post, Linda. The walker makes observations which leads her to research showing how the structure of plants allows their adaptation: bending rather than break And you extend to human behavior: to adapt to changing situations is a proof of intellligence, I think..
    Love ❤

  7. I agree with ms hatch…it’s often harder for me to embrace change foisted upon me due to dire circumstances, etc…however that’s where God’s grace, strength and miracles shine brighter and grow my character deeper…

  8. Glad you had a great Easter! 🙂 Hmm… interesting question! I think I sometimes bend and other times break. I used to like change but that was back in my youth when change tended to be trivial things like new jobs or moving house. As we age, I find the changes that come our way tend to be more brutal and more final, and they’re not so easy to embrace. There are days when I’d definitely rather be a daffodil…

    • Ha ha! I hear you! Some of the changes that have come later in life (thinning hair for one) I could do without. I miss the days of youth when I could easily quit a job only to find one right away. 🙂

  9. Great post!
    I try to embrace change as it comes my was. “Try to” being the glitch. If the change is appealing to me, I’m all in. If the change pushes me past my comfort zone, I”m not so eager. I’m actually in a period of change right now. Aging, serious health concerns of those I love, stepping back on responsibilities. It is what it is (or so I say) and I will bend. I will. 🙂
    As someone who is often labeled “stubborn”, I think I’ll borrow your term “firmly resistant”. 🙂
    I’m glad you had a great Easter, and wasn’t the weather sublime?

    • Yes, the weather was wonderful! I was invited to the home of some friends for the Easter meal. We sat outside, watching a border collie puppy playing with the kids. So relaxing.

      I know what you mean about change that pushes one out of one’s comfort zone. I’ve had many of those over the years. Firmly resistant? That’s me.

  10. Thank you for this beautiful post! I’m glad you had a happy Easter. And I was wondering why I can’t get my plants to stand up straight anymore, even though they appear perfectly healthy. Anyway, I’m trying to decide where I sit on the resist-change spectrum. I’m probably closer to the change side, just because I’ve lived in so many places, including another country. And I think learning a new language requires a kind of mental bending and stretching that’s hard for a lot of people.

    • That’s true, Lyn. It’s great to learn a new language–even more than one. We’re capable of so much more as humans.

      Thank you for your kind words. 🙂

  11. Your post reminds me of the Chinese penchant for learning lessons from nature. The lotus, for example, is a symbol of purity. She grows in a dirty, scummy pond, and yet when she blooms, the flower is pure white. The bamboo symbolizes strength. Like daffodils, bamboo bends in the wind without breaking.

    I think I’m pretty accepting of change, both when I choose to make it and when it’s imposed on me. The tricky thing for me is in deciding when to persist with a course of action and when to let it go. Persistence is good. Right? But sometimes I’ve stuck with a goal too long instead of finding something more attainable to work on.

    • Thank you for that, Nicki. I love the image of the pure white lotus flower in harsh surroundings. I also love the bamboo imagery.

      When you mentioned your acceptance of change, I can’t help recalling when you to get rid of your carpet in favor of wood floors due to allergies. That caused a lot of change.

    • I just read your recent blog, so I can’t help linking that to your comment here. Change is so hard. While I hope you won’t stop blogging, I’m hoping that your writing will take you to amazing places.

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