Several years ago while hiking with my son in Utah's 'Zion National Park', we enjoyed its beauty and the variety of colors of the sandstone formations. One thing in particular that amazed me was the resolute nature of the plants in that dry desolate desert environment. There were rugged, gnarled, twisted and obviously tenacious trees growing out of narrow cracks in sandstone walls. They probably had their start when a quantity of dirt had accumulated in the cracks, the dark crevice would protect seeds blown there by the wind. Then a seedling would obviously begin to sprout after the first rains came. The small and gnarled shrubs and trees that are produced by these crevices are wonders in and of themselves considering the hot desert climate.
We happened to walk by a tree growing out of such a crevice that had also been struck by lightning and was split into two parts. One half of the tree had been burned black by the lightening and was evidently dead. The other half, though terribly gnarled by its struggle to suck whatever nutrients and moisture it could from that little crack in the canyon wall was obviously still fighting for its life. The gnarled twisted trunk appeared to be dead but about ten feet up, at the very top of the trunk, were several small, delicate branches with a few beautiful and very much alive, shiny green leaves glistening in the sun. These few leaves were pulling as much light from the sun as they possibly could to provide the life giving photosynthesis to the struggling root of that tree. What an inspiration that was for me.
These sandstone crevice trees were hanging onto life with every crumb of nutrient that they could garner from that sparse environment. The little moisture that might land in that crevasse and what little light that their few leaves could absorb from the sun was all they had to survive on. Not all of them made it but it was obvious that none of them gave up easily and without a tremendous struggle to maintain, let alone grow. The thought came to me that a picture of these struggling shrubs or trees should be hung in every hospital room in the country. They may possibly provide the inspiration and subsequent determination to survive to those lying in hospital beds. They, like the gnarled and twisted tree, may try a little harder to suck a little more oxygen into their lungs or to eat one more spoonful of nourishing food that may be hard for them to get down. Knowing that these gnarled trees have struggled to survive for centuries, may give some of them the determination to 'hang-on' for a little longer.
I remember reading the following thought published in the Cache Valley News Letter, written by Edward W. Smith, "Imagine that someone came along and asked you to stretch yourself as high as you could. Then after you stretched yourself, that person asked you to stretch another inch, but you said that you had stretched as much as you could. Then imagine that the person said, that they would give you a million dollars if you could stretch another inch. Chances are you would make that extra inch." Those crevasse trees stretch an extra inch every day just to survive. We, as well, seem to have an extra inch for the things we enjoy doing or for the right price.
Now, our NAIFA leaders have asked us all to stretch another inch. They want all members of the association to become involved in NAIFA’s political action committee: IFAPAC. Our industry is under tremendous pressure from regulators and legislators that have the power to change YOUR course, YOUR profession with the stroke of a pen. Be clear, there is no other professional association in your industry that works for your future every day of the week in Washington, D.C. and in Olympia, WA. These are critical times and each and every insurance professional including those not yet members of NAIFA, to help pull the wagon instead of just sitting in it and enjoying the fruits of the labor of others. We don't have to struggle to survive like the crevasse trees in Zion's park but may God bless us to stretch that one more inch of time and commitment for the sake of this noble profession.
Richard Ek, LUTCF