Adaptability, Survival & Emergence in a Time of Earthly Transformation

My grandmother was a collector. A curator of ideas and stories. Before starting grad school in 2013 my mother, partner and I were put to the task of cleaning out her house. She and my grandfather had walked on to the realm of the ancestors a year prior, and everything in their house went unchanged during that time. I learned a lot about her through the process. I realized how deeply her readership had shaped her worldview. She was an avid reader. She held on to piles of magazines, including an original copy of the 1968 TIME magazine issue headlining Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. death, featuring Coretta Scott King on its cover. She had loose archives of recipes, many of which were hand written. There were notes with freestyle thoughts beside cards from family and friends. And at least two unfinished journals lingered, sparsely filled-out with fragments of details. Among these mountainous memorials were a few CDs, including a Mixtape I put together for her back in the day. It was full of jams by Sarah Vaughn — her favorite vocalist.

“There are notes between notes, you know.” — Sarah Vaughn

Every year around her birth week, I remember this experience. In many ways it provided a way for me to heal from her passing. She was, and still is such an important part of my life. At 4’11”, her small frame contained such an amazing life force. My grandmother was a Gemini. She was curious and full of ideas. She was inspiring and inspired. She was adaptable. And she loved to share in good, meaningful conversation. Her life was imperfect, and beautiful, and heart breaking. And she lived it as best she could. This New Moon in Gemini, occurring Wednesday June 13th, paired with the memory of my grandmother and the idea of adaptability, rests strongly in my mind.

In a story published last month for Medium, Nexus Media journalist Marlene Cimons delves into a relatively new area of ecological research — how plants survive climate change by taking naps. Plant intelligence is a topic many scientists are beginning to lean into in the face of a global climate crisis. In this study, researchers found 114 species, mostly perennial varieties, with this particular adaptation trait. In essence, plants that remain dormant underground will forgo reproduction and photosynthesis, in some cases for a decade or more, for the possibility of survival. While this type of plant adaptation is by no means a new phenomenon, the research does provide a fresh perspective on how species evolve through adaptation. And we don’t usually think of plants in this way; hunkering down into the earth for the unforeseeable future. We recognize our relatives by their impetus to emerge and grow. But when conditions are unfavorable for life to thrive, other solutions become more urgent.

We live the best that we can. And that doesn’t always mean that we live our best lives. Sometimes the most resilient aspects of our character come alive underground. And at some junction a decision much be made — to remain safely beneath the surface, or to emerge forth into unknown circumstances.

In her work on shaping lasting movements for justice, adrienne maree brown writes:

“Emergence is beyond what the sum of its parts could even imagine.”

In Chinese medicine, the Wood element is concerned with emergence, growth, and benevolence. The desire to not only unfold skillfully, but to do so with compassion. This requires an exquisite practice in imagination and, ultimately, love. Because, if our most profound, flexible moments happen when no one sees, such wisdom may remain unknown until after we are gone. So, what do we need from each other, in the present moment, in order to emergence as safe and whole beings?

As the summer solstice approaches, I will continue to explore ideas related to adaptability, survival, and emergence. In honor of the New Moon and solstice, I’m offering, CORE Consultations: Sustainable Self Care Strategies, designed to guide you toward greater resiliency, and deeper self love. I look forward to delving in with you.

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