My family and I have recently returned from a couple of days in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. It’s a city famous for being our seat of power, for being the middle of Middle Earth (and home to the makers of the Lord of the Rings films) and for the amount of wind it gets. In fact, the city has its own version of L.A.’s Hollywood sign, with the end few letters appearing to blow away in the wind. We enjoyed a lovely few days there and, yes, the city did live up to its windy reputation. But here’s the thing about wind – it actually has its uses.
In the United States in 1990’s, scientists constructed a fully enclosed research facility known as Biosphere 2, an environment completely sealed off from the outside world in which a team lived for two years. Over the course of the experiment scientists studied the complex interactions within life systems in five distinct areas with a focus on the interactions between humans, farming and technology with the rest of nature. Many plants flourished under the dome but some species, particularly trees of a larger size, only grew so far before they collapsed under their own weight. This failure to thrive came about because of the lack of stress wood, normally created in response to winds in natural conditions.
I think our lives can be a bit like this. None of us particularly like it when our lives get stormy but in truth these times can help us develop our own version of “stress wood”. Rather than collapsing, we bend and strengthen and are ultimately stronger next time we face such winds. Quite a number of the characters in my novels undergo their own stormy times but they grow and develop and are able to move on. In particular, The Bell Curve is full of characters facing issues particular to their age and stage. And I see it too, in my own life and in the lives of friends – that process of learning and growing stronger in times of trial. So perhaps we need not entirely fear the wind – it may be teaching us as well as testing us.