“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ~Lao Tzu
At lunch the other day, a new friend and I were discussing changes in our lives and how everything feels very new and different.
I remembered the most beautiful description Mark Nepo wrote in The Book of Awakening. Mark is a poet, and he sees the world through such a lovely light. His work opens my heart to images I’ve never thought about that are so compelling.
I can see the way Mark describes the process of change in my own life. He compares change to the immense bravery of a seed being forced into the ground. He describes the painful experience he imagines the seed must endure as it splits apart and becomes something entirely different.
Still deeply under the earth, the seedling struggles to find light, water, and nutrients for life. And one day, it emerges, not recognizable to those who only knew it as a seed. Yet it remembers the journey—the journey to something larger but unknown.
I, like the seed, have felt the darkness of the unknown, the claustrophobia of being in a space I did not understand, the anxiety of being in a place I did not feel I had chosen.
Without a job, without my identity in the world of business, I felt I might disappear, like the seed deep in the soil of my life. I struggled to trust my eventual transformation, feeling alone and yet filled with expectations for the future.
Then came the experience of cracking open—figuring out what my heart wanted next. It felt painful at first. What if no one understood? Even worse, what if no one listened?
As my heart cracked apart, it also contained a seedling—a vision of who I might become. At first I wanted to protect it. It felt too fresh, too new, and too vulnerable. I needed to guard and nourish it.
I become acquainted with this very new self quietly; I wrote in my journal about what I was feeling, what I desired. As I sat in traffic or in meditation, I gently explored my new loves. I found books from others who had already traveled this path.
As I learned more about myself and honored the path that called to me, the seedling became stronger. As I spoke up and stated my truth—at first somewhat timidly and then more clearly—my seedling began to grow into something larger and more identifiable.
I came to see who I was becoming.
I stepped out into the light. I offered my gift to the world. I let go of trying to control the result and honored the moment. As I became more authentic, my life began to take shape.
I met other people on similar paths. Some found me while seeking their own answers. A new circle began to emerge, one based on this new growth—my sturdy little seedling.
And like the seed, I remember the journey. I do not discount the dark days spent waiting for the emergence of my self. Those days have given me valuable information that I can share with other people on this path.
As I remember my seedling self, carefully coming into being in my own time, my own season, I know this is what others are experiencing. Perhaps I can help to provide nourishment for their seedling.
I’m excited as I feel this beginning taking hold and surfacing. I’m embracing change and trusting that the process of cracking the old shell is so worth the sweet tenderness of the new sprout.
Mark says, “As a seed buried in the earth cannot imagine itself as an orchid or hyacinth, neither can a heart packed with hurt imagine itself loved or at peace. The courage of the seed is that once cracking, it cracks all the way.”
This metaphor calls to my heart. When I look at nature, I see our lives reflected. We truly are one. I feel all the process, the splitting away of the old and the beginning of a new life that is so unfamiliar and yet so strong, bravely traveling into a new world.
I invite you to join me in the courage of the seed, surrendering to a process we cannot see; knowing that what will ultimately appear is beyond all imagination.
Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt