Can a resurrection fern help us get through this pandemic? – Dana Forbes

Can a resurrection fern help us get through this pandemic?

We all have moments that define us, change us, and reroute our course. Some of the most
impactful moments are traumatic ones and often something that you suffer through alone, like
a breakup or being bullied. After one of these moments in my life, I was driving around, and I
heard a song by Iron and Wine called Resurrection Fern. The lyrics were left up to my
interpretation and made me curious about the title, so I looked up what a resurrection fern
was. Turns out it’s a real thing, a fern. After reading the definition, something resonated with
me. “A resurrection fern is this remarkable plant that can lose up to 97% of its water during
extreme drought. It shrivels up into a graying brown clump of leaves appearing to be dead but
when given water again it comes back to life and looks green, healthy, alive. While it never
actually dies, it gets its name from this apparent “resurrection”. In contrast, many plants can
lose as little as 10% of their water and no amount of water will bring them back.” Wildlife
Guide. (n.d.)

Right now, you are probably thinking, “why is she telling us about plants?” In my opinion,
people are similar. Our response to the events in our lives can impact us more so then the
event itself. The word response comes from the word responsibility. Taking responsibility for
how we react to certain things in life is why some of us give up easily, while others persevere.
Another interesting tidbit about the resurrection fern is that it needs a host plant or other
substrate on which to anchor. “This fern is a type of epiphytic fern, meaning that it grows on
top of other plants or structures and that it reproduces by spores, not seeds. And while the
resurrection fern grows on top of other plants, they do not steal nutrients or water from this
host plant.” Wildlife Guide. (n.d.)

Wow, now you’re probably worried this is a botany lesson, however, if you think about those
people who can get through some of the most challenging things and quickly bounce back, like
the fern, are the same people who have strong support systems within their communities.
What is occurring in the world right now could possibly be one of the most traumatic things you
will experience in your lifetime. One of us may lose someone close to you as a result of being
sick, many of us will suffer grave financial distress, and all of us will suffer psychological and
emotional hardship. As a country (world), we are all going through this together. Now narrow
that down further to our sliding community and we are REALLY going through it together. While
we may all have different fears regarding- perhaps getting sick, losing a job, dreading the long
term impact on the economy, or not being able to be with loved ones when they need us most;
fear is fear, trauma is trauma, sadness is sadness, and we are ALL familiar with those things
right now.

I consider myself so lucky in my life- as your CEO, mother of two amazing kids (well 1.5), Gym
owner, Steamboat Springs resident with my not so svelte dog. When I reflect on the parts of my
life that have felt most successful to me, I often come to realize that had I not had my son when
I was just 17, I doubt I would be where I am today. I believe my work ethic originated at a young
age when I had no choice but to provide for someone other than myself. In my quest as a
leader, I often find myself trying to inspire motivation in others, and truthfully, I have never
really felt successful in that. Turns out you cannot teach or tell someone to be motivated.
Motivation comes as a result of an event in your life, usually one that is traumatic, unexpected,
and extremely uncomfortable.

I am not going to lie, I am pretty tired of people talking about the “good” that will come from
COVID-19, because from my seat, I struggle to agree. But what I do know from experience is
about what it takes to survive in this industry at the age of 18, teaching skiing full-time with a
one year old to feed. I know the trauma of having a child so young motivated me to stay with it
through many mud seasons, several bad snow years, and highs and lows in the economy. Not
only was I forced to be motivated, but I tried my best to embody GRIT as well. Grit is not just a
simple elbow-grease term for rugged persistence. It is an invisible display of endurance that lets
you stay in an uncomfortable place, work hard to improve upon a given interest and then do it
again and again. My hope is that when this community comes back together next fall, we are
more motivated than ever to do what we need to so this industry can survive. I hope each and
every one of you is there because you had this community to support you and vice versa
through these challenging times. I have always wanted a tattoo of a resurrection fern, but they
are kind of ugly, therefore I opted for a single tattoo on my spine, just one word in all
caps…UNBROKEN. I was not built to break, and neither were you.

Dana Forbes
CEO PSIA/AASI Rocky Mountain

References:
1. Wildlife Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nwf.org/educationalresources/
wildlife-guide/

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