Stately Aspen trees capture my imagination. They are actually groves of trees interconnected by a single root system. So when you see Aspen trees, you never see just one. They grow together. They exist as an interdependent system.
Even when a fire wipes out an area of Aspen trees, they grow back, without replanting. The tragedy of fire actually helps the new plants grow as they don’t grow well in shade. They flourish in a clean slate environment because they are already connected through one root system. How cool is that?
On a recent trip to Colorado our family did something I’ve long wanted to do, float the Colorado River on a raft.
Our guide let us know that if we didn’t work together through the whitewater we’d end up in the water. There was just the four of us, my son, daughter, husband and myself and the guide. I knew I wouldn’t be a lot of help through the rough waters. I’d be lucky to hold on and stay upright. I also knew the best thing I could do was try not to be a burden and stay out of the way.
So, I relinquished my paddle. I mean someone had to scream, right? That was my job.
A little way down the guide pointed out a line across the river and an old house on one side. Apparently an elderly man lived there until a few years ago. He actually installed a sky lift type cable car (I think it was manually powered) across the river to get from one side to the other when he needed to venture into civilization for supplies. There was no other way across. Although he had many people wanting to purchase his prime real estate, he held on stubbornly until the end.
In this land of beautiful Aspen groves it’s interesting to think about someone holding on to their disconnection from people. And yet as we drove through the towering countryside, up the sides of mountains we saw homes perched in seemingly isolated environments with no visible access. Even if a small dirt road existed when we were there in June, odds are it would be impassable when snowfalls begin this winter.
The people are friendly and talk about helping each other out in the dead of winter, when water lines break or electricity goes out. They find ways around the difficulties. I’m sure they become dependent on their friends and neighbors.
I learned Colorado is a land of contradictions. Interdependence, stoic independence and necessary dependence. As people we sometimes try to be independent and exist only for ourselves. We don’t like to be dependent on anyone else. However when we are interdependent we help each other out. We do what we can to make sure we all get through the difficulties.
I’ve always had a bit of a problem accepting help from others. As a matter of fact, I realized during this trip that many of the fears I have are because I don’t want to hurt myself and have to have others take care of me.
The thought occurred to me, though, what if someone else needs to learn how to help and I’m the person they learn on? If so then I’m really helping them learn how to help. Whether this is valid thinking or not, I have no idea. But it helped me overcome several fears on this trip and allowed me to become more interdependent on my family.
We made it through the rough water in one piece. What I felt was a thrilling ride was actually a little less exciting because of low water levels. After the first bit of rapids, I took up a paddle and helped even through a few more rough spots.
On the rafting trip, I like to think we were like a grove of Aspens, my family and I connected and dependent on each other. We survived—together (with a little help from the almighty Noname Indian river guide).