Adapting to Change: Creativity in Action

The desert is an interesting place to live. The plants, animals and humans that adapt to shifting weather do well and thrive. Those that resist, don’t.

Meanwhile, the native plants adapted to the heat, rain, wind and ground-granite dirt. Yesterday, I noticed the saguaro cactus make the most of the monsoon rains. Today, I noticed the ocotillo (Oh-Ko-TEE-Oh) or

Ocotillo leaves

Ocotillo leaves

monkey-tail cactus adapt to the climate. The ocotillo sends up long branches from the ground. As the summer heat soars, the ocotillo drops all its leaves to conserve water,  exposing long thorns. It looks dangerous and wild. Give it a monsoon rain, and within hours, leave pop out along the “trunk” and soak up the humidity. Within days, if it doesn’t rain, the leaves drop off.

The same works for people. Those who see change as a challenge to their creativity thrive. Those that resist all change have a hard, unhappy life. Adapting isn’t giving up or caving in. It’s sending out new green leaves to soak up the life-sustaining force from what surrounds you, then dropping the leaves again before the atmosphere sucks you dry. There’s a lot to be said for the ocotillo.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach who is astonished each day by the vibrancy of the desert landscape. See her workshops and read about coaching at her website,