Succulents are damn hardy. In the current heat and drought, their thick skin and water-storing abilities allow even the most forgetful of gardeners a shot at redemption.

I was gazing at Martha¹ this morning and realized that there is nothing truly remarkable about her appearance. Fleshy leaves, ghost-green, vaguely flower shaped. How in the world, then, is she an incredible feat of nature?

Well, I suppose that anything in nature must be an incredible feat. Things in nature follow an unspoken code of life, one that still remains somewhat of a mystery to human beings. Most of us have lost touch with the wilder, more primitive side of our species. We’ve adapted past nature, plowing into fields that are beyond the basic necessities of survival: innovation, exploration, technology.

A succulent, however, demonstrates something rather curious. It has perfected the art of contentment — gathering only the minimal traits to live in unfavorable conditions — something that humans find difficult to grasp. Martha is content with a window of sunshine and a drizzle of water every week. Of course, as humans, we need our own forms of sustenance and drive, but perhaps we could learn something from these strange, beautiful plants. More is not always better, and even in ugly conditions, it’s possible to persevere.

¹ I’ve fallen victim to the unfortunate naming and anthropomorphism of plants. For now, not sorry, though Edward Abbey might beg to differ.


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