Get MAD!

Bending treeOne concept that you may recall from biology is adaptation.  As an organism’s environment changes, it is presented with a three-fold choice:

  • move to another location
  • adapt to the situation, or
  • die

I do not intend to discuss natural selection as a world view, but rather to explore the concept of Move, Adapt, or Die (M. A. D.) as it applies to our everyday lives.


Hiking in the Rocky Mountain back-country, one sees evidence of this three-fold choice constantly.  Many hill tops and ridges are covered with huge boulders.  Inevitably the seed of a tree or shrub finds a little patch of fertile soil under a boulder and begins its quest to grow and mature.  It is amazing to see how many trees can eke out a living high atop a rocky ridge inside a slight crack in a rock.  They are constantly exposed to the perils of high altitude weather – fierce wind, piles of snow, bitter temperatures, searing heat, and cyclical drought.  Some seedlings find shelter along the base of a great rock.  As they get taller, the direct upward path is impeded by the boulder.  The tree adapts and bends around the rock as it grows.

These plants are tenacious.  They hang on to life.  They have been able to adapt to their situation within the environmental parameters they face.  Plants are limited geographically – they can’t move if their location is not suitable.  They can only grow where they are planted.


Animals have the advantage of mobility.  If the situation or environment proves too challenging for survival, the animal can move on.  Migratory species have succeeded at this for eons.  They change locations as seasons, food, water, or predators change.  If they can’t adapt to the environment, they move on to where the grass may be greener.


Many plants and animals don’t make it.  They can neither adapt nor move.  There are plenty of dead trees throughout the Colorado high-country: those that could not survive the austere environment.  Those creatures that can neither adapt nor move to a suitable habitat will die, and their species inevitably faces the possibility of extinction.

How does this concept apply to the human species?

Humans have one additional advantage – superior intelligence.  Incredibly, humans are the most intelligent species on the planet, while at the same time demonstrating the most stupidity of any creature.  When faced with the challenges of life, scarcity of resources, or relational conflict, how does a human respond?  The same three choices are available.  Some take on the challenges and grow and prosper.  Others become fearful and immobile.  We all must adapt to our situation.  We must use our incredible intelligence to search for and find a solution.  We put on a coat when the weather gets cold.  We find a new job when our factory closes down.  We innovate and create new opportunities and new industries.

We can also move.  We relocate to another part of the country where industry thrives.  We drive a new route when our road is washed out.  We elect new officials when we don’t like how they are running our government.  Change is inevitable.  It is a characteristic of the world in which we live.  Those who can not or will not move or adapt when the world changes around them are destined to die.

This concept is also relevant for human relations.  Maybe a relationship in your life is suffering or stagnates.  Shaking up the parameters of the relationship may help:

  • seek out wise counsel
  • change up the routine in your relationship
  • re-ignite the spark of love.

If a relationship is not helping you grow as an individual, then maybe it is time to move on.  Don’t let a negative person, situation, or relationship prevent you from growing.

Move, adapt or die.  It is the way to proceed in this world as we grow and thrive as humans.

What do you think?  Are there ways that you can move or adapt and thus stimulate growth in your life?


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About John Forrest