Aspen trees are practically synonymous with Colorado, but I can’t for the life of me get one to grow in my backyard. Stubborn trees, they grow where they will, and they flourish in the scarred and broken places. Try and put one in a nice sunny spot with lots of water and specialty garden soil, and no roots sink deep, no branches stretch high. But in the wild places, where fire has swept through and destroyed everything, or miners have stripped the earth and left it forsaken, aspen thrive. They grow up like a white-robed throng of angels, undeterred and unstoppable.
Seems to me aspen have a lot in common with good characters. If you want a compelling story, with people whose voices are strong and clear, you can’t tend them too carefully. You have to let them go where they will. And they will put down deep roots and grow tall only in the scarred and broken places. Let the fire sweep through, and what remains is what will last.
Life is like that, too. Though we would keep the drama out, when the heartache has passed, what fills the empty place is stronger, more beautiful. Something to keep in mind on bad days… Let the storm come, let it rage. Then, wait for the aspen. They will come.