Serotiny and Good Disasters

I think anyone who grew up in the late 80’s early 90’s is familiar with Smokey the Bear… The shovel-toting, hat-wearing grizzly that pointed through television screens at you saying “only you can prevent forest fires.”

After seeing one of Smokey’s PSAs, I recall going to school and having my teacher go through why forest fires are actually sometimes important for ecology for forests to regenerate themselves. Not to say that when you go camping you shouldn’t make sure your fire is put out or be careless with your cigarette butts in the dry woods but sometimes what seems to be radical destruction is actually a catalyst for growth and reinvention.

Some seed plants have actually have adapted so that they only release seeds when an environmental trigger (like a forest fire or death of the parent plant) cues them to — not when they’ve reached maturation (or are “ready”). This is an adaptation called serotiny.

I don’t believe that nature has restricted serotiny only to the plant world — as people, I think we have also adapted to serotiny in our lives. I’ve seen people get let go of jobs only to find new ones that made them happier anyways or get dumped only to find the love of their lives. Sometimes what appears to be a destructive environmental trigger is needed to force us to grow.

I think when these changes are forced upon us in our lives, our inclination is to resist them, to cling to the familiar and try and control and maintain familiarity so that our fear of chaos is contained. If we don’t have control then how can we be individuals? Individuality is a concept that only fuels our egos to think that we are somehow separate than or different than others when truly we are all experiencing life together.

That being said our bodies too are beings of dynamic homeostasis — anyone who has tried to develop their yoga practise know that through asana, the physical practise, you transform yourself within with healthier lungs, stronger muscles etc… Even the act of building muscle is tearing the muscular fibres so they build themselves back up bigger and stronger. If you apply the concept of serotiny to this, feel the burn takes on a whole new meaning.
Our muscles can act as proof that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (even though it can burn like hell in the process).

Moving through the midst of total destruction of the reality I knew, I know I will completely regenerate and mature to a happier reality.

I guess the lesson in it all is… Life can be full of good disasters if we take the time to feel the burn and build ourselves back up stronger than before.


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