The Audacity of a Magnolia

joe —  Sun 11-Jul-10 — 5 Comments
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Our house sits on a very heavily wooded lot surrounded by large oak, maple, and cherry trees. Sitting on our back porch, staring at this beautiful forest is where I write nearly all of the Stranded Starfish columns. It is here where I see the hand of our Creator at work.

Then when I peer around the corner of the house I come in full view of what can only be described as God wanting to express himself. Here stands a tree that was given to me by my wife and mother-in-law, a constant reminder of how much they understand me. I cannot pass by this tree without stopping to notice it and go “Wow!”


Magnolia Flower.jpgThe Southern Magnolia is truly audacious. It refuses to conform to every other tree around it. Unlike going to a book to figure out what type of oak you have there is no mistaking a magnolia – you could recognize it from a quarter of a mile away. It doesn’t just bloom with a lot of tiny buds – it comes on full force with only a handful of gigantic, fragrant flowers. It dares to conform to the fast growing trees that populate most subdivisions and soon get blown away. It takes it’s sweet time to reach 90 glorious feet. When it does it blots out light to everything below it with one foot long, five inch wide leaves. It then defies all other logic by deciding to keep it’s leaves throughout the winter.

The audacity of the Southern Magnolia is irrational and yet very inspirational. How dare it not be like the others? It is an ancient tree yet no other tree has tried to mimic its success. It stands not seeking permission nor forgiveness for being different but “is” in a very different and special way. It shines in a light all of its own.

It was yesterday morning, as I gazed again on this majestic creation that some very powerful words started playing in my ears – words that once adorned my computer desktop as a constant reminder of my aspirations. Words that today will be placed there once again.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marriane Williamson

Today’s Question
What part of your life have you chosen to be audacious?

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  • http://www.andrewfuqua.com Andrew Fuqua

    Indeed. Few among us are extremely bold or daring, recklessly brave, extremely original, highly inventive, lively, unrestrained, or uninhibited. I can think of a few examples that I’ve crossed paths with, but not too many.

    I wonder if it’s difficult to see this in yourself? Is it often a choice to be audacious? Nature or nurture?

    • http://www.TheStrandedStarfish.com joe

      I think there is a lot of nature in audacity. Scientists have shown risk taking to have a significant genetic element. One person’s risk is likely another’s “ho-hum”. I couldn’t possibly imagine doing some of the things they do on the X-Games.

      I think taking bold risks is relative to the risk taker. Deciding to have yogurt this morning instead of the cereal you have had every day of your life may indeed be audacious to you.

      I think it’s the mindset that is created when one attempts to be audacious that makes the experience valuable. Imagine doing one audacious thing every day. The struggle to think about finding one may be more beneficial than the task of actually doing it.

      I think you can see this in yourself – better yet feel this.

  • http://www.andrewfuqua.com Andrew Fuqua

    It’s most easy to be bold about what you are passionate about. At ISS I enjoyed being very passionate about my projects (CPE and sensor independence).

    Interestingly, I was also passionate about eXtreme Programming, but have decided to be not quite so bold, though still as big a fan as I ever was. I temper my enthusiasm to a varying degree depending on the audience. There are times when XP isn’t right. I may work with a Kanban or Scrum team, for example, and never mention XP nor bemoan the process being used. The process being used, at least if I’ve recommended it, is the best process for that team at that time. And when it clicks, it can be quite fun.

  • Doug

    I just planted our first Magnolia in our back yard. A bit audacious to think it’ll make it here in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s worth a try! I’m told that the blossoms will one day outweigh the drag of all those huge leaf-drops. I hope so!

    “We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” So very true. Let it be.

    • http://www.TheStrandedStarfish.com joe

      Wow – I never thought of a magnolia in the great northwest. Let me know how it does, Doug.