Friday, March 8, 2019

Insight: Bend like bamboo

By Lorraine Glowczak

There were many things I learned with my adventure to the State House last week as I visited with a few of our local delegates, shadowing them to discover what a typical day is like for a legislator (read page 8). I went with a set plan and agenda in mind regarding the exact times and location I would meet each of them. But that all changed the moment I walked into the door. I quickly discovered that if there is one personality trait required of a legislator, that would be the ability to be adaptable and accommodating.

It seems every plan we made, we had to shift and adjust our well-thought out schedule, multiple times in what seemed like a matter of seconds. Rep. Jessica Fay referred to this constantly changing schedule as the “pinball effect.”

Although adaptability during legislative sessions happen at a quick pace, there is a little flexibility required in everyday life. For every set agenda or focus goal, there is always something that is thrown in our way, interrupting our concentration and requiring us to adjust our sails.

When this happens, we can either become frustrated and disappointed by the unexpected disturbances – or alter our course and - as a friend once said to me, “bend like bamboo.”

Here in North American where the largest number of oak tree species can be found, the acorn and oak tree analogy (acorn inside holds the seed of a mighty oak tree potential) is what we use to remind us that we all have great potential within us. Many Asian countries, where bamboo profusely grows, have their own comparison tale. 

Author, Garr Reynolds, explains the bamboo analogy the best:

“One of the most impressive things about the bamboo in the forest is how they sway with even the slightest breeze. This gentle swaying movement with the wind is a symbol of humility. Their bodies are hard and firm and yet sway gently in the breeze while their trunks stay rooted firmly in the ground below. Their foundation is solid even though they move and sway harmoniously with the wind, never fighting against it. In time, even the strongest wind tires itself out, but the bamboo remains standing tall and still. A bend-but-don't-break or go-with-the-natural-flow attitude is one of the secrets for success whether we're talking about bamboo trees, answering tough questions in a Q&A session, or just dealing with the everyday vagaries of life.”

Flexibility is not the only thing that impresses me about bamboo. It has great versatility as well. Besides wood and paper products, bamboo is used in clothing, can be made into wine, eaten as food, used in steering wheels, bikes, helmets, in medicine, and much more. It’s amazing to me that with this level of adaptability, how much is offered and available.

Maybe the next time life throws you or I another curve ball, we can imagine that we are bamboo swaying in the wind. And if that doesn’t work and frustration persists, we could imagine to be in a giant tilted pinball machine. You laugh, but – who knows – maybe machine is tilted in our favor.

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