Seeds, Sprouts, Trees: A Personal Growth Crisis
Let's assume that we're born into a world with some structure. A family unit to guide us. Schools to educate us. Every now and again life happens and we must deal with the repercussions or consequences of a world that we can't control. Once we graduate from that structure, leave home, and set out to conquer the world, youth and vigor are still there to provide fuel. Until, at some point that begins to slow, it's an unavoidable natural progression. Usually, it's complemented by the harsh reality that we really have no control over anything, whatsoever. The weight of the world finds our shoulders and settles in. What are we to do then? Where do we go? How will we survive, and often at the core is, how do we find happiness in a world like this? Because one thing we've learned is this life is going to be long, very, very long.
Now aware of the depth and struggle the real world provides, how do we survive? Thrive? Perhaps mentors at work will teach us, but they've got lives of their own. Parents outgrow the dilemma of modern circumstance and can only provide wisdom with the caveat, "when I was your age...". Coupled with those concerns, more and more people are working "freelance". One way or another we are all trying to make ends meet in the brave new gig-economy lifestyle. This puts us in a constant flux, demanding a willingness to bend, change, shift.
These concerns become counterintuitive to the comfort of the small ecosystems we've worked so hard to create for ourselves. Comfort can be a hard obstacle to overcome, even if that comfort-zone is depressing, humiliating, miserable, or unfulfilling. The fact is no matter how bad, it's still familiar. There is comfort in that uncomfortable familiarity.
At some point though, if we're lucky, we seek growth and understand that will require action. Self-motivation a must, when we finally sack up and get ready to advance. How then do we deal with the change and leave behind the things we've always loved?
During a meditation, I experience the following vision:
I envisioned a forest floor. Sunlight beaming upon the fertile earth. Ripples of shade flutter from the windblown trees like confetti. The springtime seeds dropped from birds, bushes and trees have settled in and after the winter rains are now ready to grow.
We all started as these seeds. Planted into a fertile womb and set upon this life to grow into something bigger upon birth. At first, everything is provided for the seeds: nutrients, water, sunlight. Without question they do what is instinctually correct, they sprout. Jetting from the earth and reaching for the sun. By their side hundreds of other sprouts. Maybe they never knew other seeds were so close to them but, as they grow, together they create a lush carpet of green throughout the forest.
Then something happens over time. Each sprout begins to change. Some thicken into saplings, others begin to branch leaves or buds. Characteristics develop amongst themselves that differentiate them from one another. But me, the personification of the seed in the equation, has grown to love the small green pasture we all once were. I don't want that to change. When we were all sprouts we wiggled and tickled as the wind rushed through us. We supported each other when trampled by beast, branch or stone. I thought we were all in this together, but now everything is changing. By seeing all of the change in you, I've given way to my own existential crisis, what is to become of me?
So I reflect, I search for guidance, knowledge, and direction. Ultimately understanding that my joy and path is to become whatever I am meant to be. But still, I struggle. Though I start to grow more quickly, I bend my branches low. I pretend that I'm still a lush blade of grass or low broad shrub or soon to blossom flower. But nothing is working, I can't continue fighting the change that is myself.
Personally, in my life, I've stayed in that space, loop or cycle for years on end. Emotionally pretending to be something I wasn't. Desperately trying to hang on to something that once was great but I refuse to see I've outgrown. I've pitied the transition, I've cursed myself for being wrong or different. How dare I strive to reach the sky, join the canopy, provide shelter, shade, and serenity for the forest floor below. Aren't I just a blade of grass amongst many?
And at that moment I've been struck dumb.
Some blades of grass remain, while others become shrubs and flowers that blossom because that's what they're meant to be. In fact, they may have a longer life if they have the shade I am to provide as I grow. One day my branches will appear providing places for creatures to find shelter. Those creatures can then help to nourish the forest floor below. I can try to force an outcome through self-will, but the end result is most likely to be deformed, malnourished or diseased because I refused to accept the potential I was given.
The truth is, I am not a seed destined to sprout a blade of grass, I am an Oak. I will grow into a contributing member of the forest amongst the trees. Together we will help the floor below weather storms. Our roots will provide strength for the soil, so generations of plants that come and go will experience their own destiny.
The oak has no say in what happens via the way of the world, be it felled by hurricane, ax or quake. It can only be concerned with what it is and do its best to honor the seed from which it sprang.