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Controlled Burn

January 17, 2020

Have you ever heard of something called a controlled burn? It’s a forest fire that’s set intentionally for the purpose of forest management. A controlled burn (and I am stealing pretty directly from Wikipedia here) stimulates the germination of some trees, and reveals mineral layers in the soil which increases seedling vitality, thus renewing the forest. The cones of some of those trees are serotinous,  which means they require heat from fire to open and disperse their seeds. That’s right, unless there is a fire, those seeds don’t get released.

I remember traveling across the country in a camper with my family back in the 60s. We visited Giant Sequoia National Monument where we listened to a park ranger explain the idea behind a controlled burn. He said that when a forest is thick, the trees know that it is a waste of time to distribute their seeds because, even if they germinate, there won’t be any room, or light, for them to grow. So these clever trees (or maybe it’s the pine cones) evolved this trick of waiting until a fire obliterates the obstacles to growth before they release their seeds.

People rarely get to do controlled burns for themselves. Our metaphorical forest fires are usually unexpected, unwanted and unmerciful.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t take away some of the same benefits. In this month’s theme, “What Doesn’t Kill You,” we offer seven articles that explore the positive in the negative.

“Be Afraid by new Bucket contributor Jennifer Munn is an introspective piece that explores the benefits of forcing yourself to do things that scare you.  “Swimming Outside the Comfort Zone by our resident curmudgeon, J.P. McFarland,  is another face-your-fears column about his first triathlon.

Speaking of comfort zones, in Mourning Routine”, etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore goes way outside of hers to share an incredibly moving story of divorce, doubt and revival.

Paradise Lost” and “Where the Road Trip Takes You” are companion pieces by our managing editor, Morgan Baker. These chronicle the emotional, and literal, ride of an unexpected life change that led to a higher tolerance for change and a new passion for adventure.

We also have a new addition to Rita Lussier’s popular column, For the Moment. “When Life Gives you Lemons, Make Like My Dad” is a heartwarming account of all the ways her father has inspired her to find the good in every situation.

And finally, we offer up “Plan to Fail”, a practical, how-to piece from regular contributors Joyce Alla and Leslie Eddy that details the steps you can take to prevent a failed marriage, business venture or investment from taking too much of a financial toll.

I hope you enjoy reading these articles and find something that inspires you to live a more fulfilling life now…today.  We all experience fear, setbacks and disappointments. The trick is using these so-called failures as a fuel to power your next endeavor. To live a more fulfilling life. And die with fewer regrets about things you wish you had done. Enjoy — David


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