If you want to thrive, invite in variety.

I am 5000 miles away from home, nestled on a small island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. San Miguel is full of hidden gems. The twists and turns of its roads offer limitless hikes, waterfalls, and viewpoints.  behind every twist and turn of the islands few roads. It is the perfect place to unplug from day to day life in Oakland and plug into nature. For me, nature is the space that I need to recharge.

Yesterday’s destination was a hike. The hike dipped below the cliffed edge of the land to two different ancient boat docks. Between the docks was a short climb back to the cliffs. Nestled halfway through terrain that my partner and I coined “the W,” was a gorgeous waterfall. Sitting on a rock no more than 500 feet from the ocean, the waterfall captured me. It’s flow was relentless. The spectrum of greenery drinking from it’s water caught my eye.

I turned to my partner, posing the kind of questions that seem to have space for debate when traveling. “How many different plants do you think are thriving from the water? Nestled below it?”

“1000 maybe. Give or take,” he joked at his ease in replying with such confidence.

“But those are only the ones that we can actually see from where we are sitting. What about all the smaller ones that we can’t see from here. The ones that live under the leaves of the bigger ones.” I got joy in imagining how much was out of our sight from down below.

We sat in silence longer.

I was holding my dismay from the previous day’s Supreme Court ruling in Trump v Hawaii. Alongside it was tremendous gratitude.  If the 70s were like today, my dad would not have immigrated here from Iran in search of an education. A “better life.” Today's America is different. It grants a legal gold stamp to “other” individuals beneath a veil of national security.

“What if our country could be like that waterfall?” I asked my partner. I was admiring the variety of plant species. Without the variety, there would be less to admire about the view that sat in front of us. The variety made the view worth our hour long pause across “the W.”

I imagined that the small ecosystem, nestled in the cove, had come to depend on the variety. Some of its beauty was likely introduced by birds or animals, coming from places further away. They had grown from non-native seeds. Some of those same plants were now likely thriving on other parts of the island. They had become part of the island’s existence. It may not have started that way. And yet it was here now, taking my breath away.

Variety is a window that allows us to see the same thing from different perspectives. It is fuel for change. It is the source of original ideas. It is the catalyst for movement into the future. Without it, we all fall down from suffocating stagnation.

Where can you invite variety into your life this week?