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Reaching for light - on making it in life and the ones who don't.

(I originally published this on private social media about 9 months ago. It is geared towards people unfamiliar with our types of struggles. I realized some here might find it helpful. Enjoy!)

Plants reach for the light.

It's instinct. The sun makes them feel good. Alive. Warm fuzzies.

No plant needs to be taught that the light is good for them. They all know it. They all want it.

Most plants have a relatively clear shot at daylight. I mean, it's everywhere, right? They're even able to change direction to reach it best. I remember as a kid observing a plant in the windowsill adjust itself throughout the day after I'd spun it around to face the darkness.

It sought the light.

But not all plants have it easy.

Some seeds sprout in the dark cracks of a concrete sidewalk. They have no control over where they landed or the conditions they found themselves in when they came to. Their tender shoots encounter the unforgiving rock and go: "Damn. This sucks."

Like all plants, they, too, seek the light.

For them, it might take several feet of painstaking climbing before they even reach surface, where privileged plants get their start. They finally slip a leaf over the edge of the crack, into the light of day.

"What took you so long?" Other plants ask. "Why are you acting like it's soooo hard to access daylight? There's light everywhere. I mean sure, we all had to put in a little effort to learn what works for us, but it's seriously not that hard. Those seedlings over there are the same height as you and you don't see them gasping around dramatically."

The other plants don't realize just how dark and twisted a journey it took to get there.

It wouldn't even occur to them.

The ones that finally reach the light proceed to thrive and bloom in the most impossible of places, inspiring all who take notice. Blooming in such hostile conditions certainly brings a smile to my face, that's for sure. Because something so gorgeous and fragile is beating the odds. Because tendrils so delicate we could could crush them with a finger literally broke apart asphalt to reach the surface.

We forget the other side of those odds.

The ones that don't make it are invisible.

The ones who never reach the light? They quietly fade out of existence, far from our awareness. And it's not because they didn't try hard enough. It's simply because the resources necessary to overcome the adversity were unavailable.

We assume that since the ONE plant beat the odds to reach light, surely others could, too. And if others could, then YOU could, so if you can't then that must be YOUR FAULT somehow.

As if external resources are never too scarce to survive on.

As if everyone is blessed with the same internal resources, the way some seeds are ridiculously hardy. And the ones that aren't? Why would that be a shortcoming? Those flowers yield a beauty that can break your heart.

Plants do their best. And when they don't make it, we say "Oh, they didn't get enough water." or "Yeah the poor things just needed more sun, it was too shady." Or, "The lack of fertilizer did them in."

We never say, "They just should've tried harder, dammit!" :rolleyes:

If you don't think people are the same, you need to take a good look around you. No one actually wants life to suck for them. In their own way, each person is reaching for the light, whatever their version of that means. And trust me, they are trying their damnedest to get there.

I'm finally getting there.

After over a decade of unimaginable shittyness and working hard, I am making it. I have slipped a leaf over the edge of that cold concrete into the warm, glorious sunlight. Last week it occurred to me for the first time in my life that the world could actually have good things in store for me. Imagine that! I'm accustomed to the default of everything is hostile, unsafe, with pockets of okayness and safety occasionally found. But that's changing, now. I'm feeling the light and it is amazing. I expect to be blooming like nobody's business in no time flat.

But don't you DARE use me as an example to prove that if others aren't making it, it's their fault.

I'm NOT making it because I tried harder than the rest of them.

I know this because I know the ones that aren't making it. I came from that deep dark crack where so many of my friends still struggle. I see them. You don't. You don't know. Many of them have already lost their fight, and many more will never reach the light.

I'm making it due to lots of amazing people in my life, playing both big and small roles.

I'm making it because the ratio of difficulty to resources was never imbalanced beyond what I could internally compensate for, at least temporarily.

I'm making it because a few big breaks happened.

Yeah, that's right, luck has a role in it.

Don't you DARE say that others can just do the same. Don't you DARE say there's always a way through. Don't you DARE say "try harder, be better, do more." Sometimes there is no more. And sometimes, there are no breaks. Not in time to make it.

So, I'm making it, but I have survivor's guilt. I know people who've been trying as hard as me, for longer than me, and they're still down there and I can't help them.

I'm a plant who's reached the light.

And I wish the same success for others, whatever your light may be.


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