Beware Bamboo

By Patrick McNerthney

I like to think I’m in a constant battle with nature. It’s not something I seek out, it’s something that just happens to me because nature hates me. For example, despite living in a fairly large neighborhood (I’m not going to tell you which one, I get enough threatening letters as it is) in a fairly large city, I am a carnivore magnet.

That’s right. Carnivore magnet. Last week a coyote appeared in front of my house and decided our Wonder Dog Benji (whom I was walking at the time) would be the perfect breakfast bite. I live in a city. In a dense neighborhood in a big city. Where the heck did this coyote come from? Who knows, but Wile-E decided Wonder Dog was not at all snackable after realizing I was present. Must be my physique.

(Or not. My physique is powered by these. They’re sooooo GOOD.)

Or consider the bamboo. Yes, bamboo.

I planted some in my backyard a few years back and was summarily disappointed as it appeared the dirt simply swallowed it whole and never planned for its return. So I put some pots over it and filled them with random seeds (admittedly, they were on sale) that represented flowers that appeared to be (according to the picture on the packet) the perfect accent to our fence. Except they all instantly died because apparently you can’t just plant seeds in regular ol’ dirt. You must use potting soil and water them or something. Again, who knew? 

Anyway, it turns out bamboo takes up to five years to develop roots. So low and behold this last spring I walked out to re-plant my pots only to find them overwhelmed by bamboo shoots (about a foot high). THEN, like 7 days later, I walked back there and the bamboo was FOUR FEET HIGH. Oh mercy. 

Needless to say, this corner of our yard is now owned by bamboo—I think it registered to vote last week, and agreed to pay part of our property tax. 

(I do whatever it tells me to.)

So bamboo is one of those things that to the outside observer seems like no visible progress is being made after planting. For YEARS.  Meanwhile, it grows below the surface, developing roots and storing explosive energy (I looked it up). Then, all at once (IT BEARS REPEATING: WHO KNEW?) it starts to take over the planet. I read it can reach 50 feet in a matter of weeks thanks to its ability to store so much energy. 

So. If you want some bamboo, let me know. 

The point is, this is a metaphor for our professions. When we work on something, we watch it and measure progress. This applies whether it’s growing followers, fundraising, waiting for paint to dry, or helping residents and/or loved ones fight social isolation. Each incremental step is on our radar, and it can be really frustrating to watch as it appears that nothing is changing…

But we don’t have to be miserable, hopeless, or frustrated if we consider that maybe, just maybe, the change is happening despite the fact that we don’t see it. MAYBE, the roots are growing, underneath where no one can see it–and  one day, when we’re least expecting it, we will see explosive growth. 

So don’t stop trying when it comes to the elderly, children with challenges, or anyone needing help with life’s daily tasks.  You are helping them overcome anxiety and depression. Even if you don’t SEE the change happening, it’s most likely taking root. 

And that’s where Fine Art Miracles (FAM) can help. 

FAM helps caregivers utilize the power of creative expression to reconnect their residents and loved ones with the antidotes to social isolation: feelings of joy, confidence, self-worth, hope, relevance to the outside world, and the belief that they MATTER. 

That’s right—Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Multi-Sensory Sessions, Art2Go Packages (November is all about folk artist Maria Prymachenko!) and Dance & Movement Therapy utilize the power of simply making to make change for those who need it most. You may see the change right away—maybe not—but FAM knows its tools lead to explosive growth eventually. So what have you got to lose? Give FAM a call or drop them a note, they’re happy to explain how creative expression takes root!

Whelp, I got a small bat for my dog walk tomorrow morning—just in case Wile-E decides I’m not that buff after all. Plus Benji now has a light on his collar, which I read deters slavering coyotes. The bamboo is another story-I cut down quite a bit but that only seemed to anger it, so now I leave it be…I think it’s flexing those crazy strong root muscles underground where it thinks I can’t see them!  Ha!


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