I was born in the desert. Well, not literally in the desert. I was born in a very nice hospital. The hospital however, was in El Paso, Texas which is part of the Chihuahuan Desert.
I loved living in the desert and have many fond memories of the time I spent there. I loved the beautiful cactus flowers and other desert plant life. I loved chasing tiny lizards and giant tumbleweeds. As a small child, I felt as if I had my own giant sandbox to play in.
When I was five years old, I was forced to leave my sandbox. My family moved over 1500 miles away to Chicago, Illinois. I quickly discovered this place was considerably different than my previous home.
Everything about this new place was strange and foreign to me. Our new home was adjacent to a beautiful, heavily wooded park. We had been there only minutes when I asked my parents why there were so many trees growing there. They jokingly responded that it was because it was a “jungle”.
I am sure that my parents quickly forgot about their comment but I didn’t. I was very young and didn’t fully understand their humor. I remember lying awake at night worrying that wild animals might come out of this “jungle” and find their way into my room. I remember wishing that I could get far away from this place and go back to my home in the desert.
Of course, in time, I learned that the park was not a scary jungle and came to love the area very much. I especially loved it in the autumn when the leaves of all these trees turned beautiful, vibrant colors and fell to the ground forming crunchy piles for me to run through and play in. I learned that my new home, while different from my desert sandbox, was a very pleasant place full of new adventures and new memories.
Through the years, I have tried always to remember this experience. When I am afraid to begin a new chapter in my life, when I am afraid to try things that frighten me, I remember that once, I thought a beautiful, serene park was a terrifying jungle.
My jungle reminds me that often those things in our lives that initially appear frightening can turn out to be beautiful and worthwhile if we give them a chance.