When A Truce is Greater Than Friction

I love the Union and the Constitution, but I would rather leave the Union with the Constitution than remain in the Union without it.” – Jefferson Davis

April 9th, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of when Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant in the front parlor of a farmhouse in Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. This event set off the chain of surrenders that swept across the South, thus indicating the end of the Civil War.  This made me think about my own Civil War I fight every single day.

I’ve always enjoyed learning about The Civil War because I feel as though I walk around with a Robert E. Lee and a Ulysses S. Grant waging war inside me.  I fight against what my heart feels and my head thinks every single day.  Every once in a while they meet just like the real ones did and call a truce.  It can be for one hour, one day, or one week, but truces never last.  The Civil War continues on.  No one notifies the rest of the troops, so the battles never cease.

Robert E. Lee for me symbolizes the general for my heart.  Lee lived in the South, however  originally his desire was to see the Union intact.  He fought for the exact opposite on principle. My heart is the same way.  Because it is my heart, it tends to make decisions for me without bothering to ask my brain what the best plan would be, but my heart always has the best intentions.  After all, it is my heart. Lee lost the war, but what he really wanted was peace and harmony back.  Hearts are like that.

Ulysses S. Grant is symbolic of my brain.  My brain can make a deal with the Devil to make the March to the Sea happen and burn every metaphorical Atlanta on the way.  My brain is strategic.  It has excellent leading capabilities, just like U.S. Grant.  It has iron will.  Stubborn to a fault, my brain will argue with the strongest arguments it can come up with.  My brain is sometimes completely and utterly wrong. Does that mean my brain will stop spewing words out of my mouth faster than it can filter them? The answer is absolutely not.  Grant won the war, but there was a lot of collateral damage and Reconstruction took years.

Could the South have won?  Perhaps, but it doesn’t all boil down to leadership.  It comes down to decisions.  Some decisions the generals made, but other decisions were out of either general’s control and belonged to other people to make.  Many battles were fought prior to that surrender 150 years ago.  I’m sure there were several times Lee probably felt like the best thing to do was surrender.  Other times I’m positive Lee felt the best thing to do was fight as hard as he could for a cause he deemed worthy enough to die for.

Have you ever believed in something so much you’d be willing to die for it?  When your heart and your head agree on opposing sides and they both are willing to sink the ship to win the war, who wins?  Can there be a winner?  Is a truce within ourselves ever really a truce, or is it just a lie we tell ourselves to get us through another day so we can wake up the next day with enough energy to fight again?  There are always casualties of war, and sadly either way, it’s me going down with a fight.


Growing Seasons


Everyone goes through a growing season, even though at first it might not be easily identifiable as you experience it. A growing season is defined as the time that plants experience the maximum amount of growth successfully. People have them too, but they aren’t always as long or as short as a plant’s growing season.

The past year has been challenging. Few things remain from the life I led one year ago. Growing seasons push you out of your comfort zone, ask you to get real with yourself, and in the end you are better for it. At the time it’s just like the seed in the quote, you are sure you are completely losing it. You feel like your guts could come out, and you are raw material. You feel the complete destruction. In the past year I doubted, I wondered, I wandered, and I lived. I made mistakes, and in reality, that’s probably the thing I did the most. Even though I was hurt and confused and I felt I had most likely offended the universe greatly to have all the things happen to me that way, I knew it would all end up okay.   Hard times had hit before, and then I wasn’t so sure I’d come out of it in one piece. This time, I knew I might not come out of it in one piece, but brokenness could be just as valuable. When you are broken, something beautiful could very well come out of the brokenness. To a seed, that’s the only way to make a flower: complete destruction.

Now that I feel this growing season slowing down I’ve decided it’s not enough just to flower. I don’t want to flower and die. I am not going to be an annual. I would rather be a perennial. Annuals are beautiful, and they bloom so bright and pretty. However, annuals sprout, flower, seed, and die in one growing season. I know I won’t actually die, but I also don’t want this to be the end. I want to keep on growing.

Perennials have it a little tougher. They persist. They have to take measures to prevent not dying off during the time when they are not in their growing season. Some build structures in order to survive the other seasons when they are not in bloom, such as bulbs or seeds. They have shorter blooming periods, but when placed with other plants with blooming periods that are not the same as theirs they help provide beauty even after their season is over. Some even keep their leaves year round and return to bloom year after year.

Just like flowers, that’s what people need. They need to be surrounded by other “perennials” that have different growing seasons so they can all help each other be the most beautiful as they flower. Where we are “planted” matters. Where we are planted can change a perennial into an annual if planted where they don’t grow best. We all want to grow. We all want to be brilliant flowers. We just have to find the right amount of sunlight, the right amount of rain, and grow.