Learning From Lichen

scan0009Lichens are perhaps one of the most amazing, and under-appreciated natural phenomenon.  They are found in arctic tundra, blazing deserts, rain forests, rocky coasts and toxic spoil heaps.  Growing on bare rock, tree bark, headstones, benches, and bridges.  They can survive drought and extreme temperatures (Although they are vulnerable to air pollution and acid rain).

The secret to their success:  Weakness.

Lichen is actually two organisms, working together, fungus, and algae.  The fungus is unable to supply its own nutrients, and the alga is easily destroyed by environmental extremes.  To remedy this, the algae feeds the fungus, and the fungus protects the algae.  Each of them, without the weakness of the other, would have no opportunity to use its own strength.

lichens can survive in some environmental conditions in which neither the algae nor the fungi could live alone

Can we learn from this?  Can we understand that our weaknesses are not something to be hidden, or to be ashamed of?  Can we stop belittling and berating others for their weaknesses, and appreciate the chance to utilize our strength?  What good do our strengths do in the absence of weakness?  What use is a cure in the absence of disease?  What use is forgiveness when nothing is done wrong?

Be grateful for your pitfalls, mistakes, and problems.  Be grateful for the shortcomings of those around you.  It is a precious thing to use your surplus to help one who is lacking, and a great gift.  We could even say that we are in debt to those who we serve, and that they deserve our gratitude as much as we deserve theirs.

Understanding this is the key to surviving extreme conditions.

“Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.”
~Lao Tzu

 

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