Starting a New Life: The Courage of a Seed

“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

About Karen Mead

Karen Mead is an alchemist, an explorer and a fellow traveler on this journey of life. Visit her blog, The Peaceful Journey , or check out her website, A Peaceful Path .

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  • Sara B.

    One of the best articles yet! Excellent.

  • Great article! The other thing that struck me about the seed is that it doesn’t assume it won’t find the light. It just goes towards it, no matter what’s in the way. Have you ever seen a little seedling poking out from under a rock or something else it can’t go through? Imagine coming up against this seemingly immovable object, deep down in the ground! Did it give up? No it just kept seeking the light and eventually found it. What a lovely metaphor for change!


  • Beautiful post,

    When we stand tall and push through the hard times, we ultimately begin to grow as human beings. Every obstacle is a blessing in disguise.
    Nature is the perfect teacher.

    Thank-you for sharing, have a wonderful day.


  • Kim

    Well most of us are like that seed which you personified so brilliantly in your post . Humans never get anything without struggling just like the seed which struggles for light , water and nourishment when its deep in the soil. To get anything without struggle is often undervalued unlike if it has been achieved with struggle.

  • Herpeaceofmind

    Very well written, and I am recieving it at a time that it’s value is definately pricelss. Thank you so much for sharing. I am so encouraged to grab a copy of The Book of Awakening!!!

  • Allan

    What an eloquent description of the process of of becoming what we are meant to be. The courage that it takes, especially when we can’t see the magnificence on the other side. Can you imagine a seed, kicking it’s heels into the ground saying no, no I am not going open up and sprout, or a caterpillar refusing to become a butterfly. It’s only because they don’t know what’s on the other side.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Allan Fried

  • Karenmyatt

    i am going through this seedling process now just emerging into the light and growing stronger by the day, learning to trust yourself is very scary indeed

  • Kmhegar

    Karen thank you for such a richly written and woven testament to the power of finding and then following your authentic self. What a talented writer you are. I resonated so with all your words.

  • i have a tattoo of a sprouting seed on my ankle as a symbol of growth.

  • DITTO! “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.”~Karen Mead
    Thanks Karen for an inspiring & lovely article~sb
    PS-i just retweeted to my 4500 facebook friends/followers and on ALL my social/networking medias:
    RT_ @tinybuddha ~ The Courage of a Seed: what an awesome metaphor! please take a moment to read my most favorite blog~sb

  • Amazing insight! This has definitely empowered my weak heart today. Full of inspiration and explaining important concept of courage in a lucid manner. Thanks for sharing.

    – Amit Bhatia

  • Very nice post, I think the courageous seed is such a great metaphor – I was writing about the very same thing just the other day :), Thanks for posting.

  • Angie

    This was a very inspiring article for me. I am in the confusing days of choosing to plant a new seed for a new path or continue on the old path. The old path feels dead but my fear is keeping me stuck in it. Reading this article reminds me that I must let go of the death in order to find the life I’m meant to lead. I keep wanting to know the outcome before I do that, but the seed doesn’t know and doesn’t struggle it just becomes. I feel inspired to choose change.

  • Jen Brentano

    Beautiful. What a gift for writing you have. Thank you for blessing us by sharing this.

  • This was a great post. Timely and inspiring. Thank you.

  • Rafa

    Thank you, this one of the best articles is very inspiriting !!!.
    Have a nice day.


  • Erin Lanahan

    Hi Sharon. Thanks so much for this beautiful post. I have experienced this in my life as well. In fact I am currently experiencing being the seed once again, and I have invited Grace in to nurture me and to help me grow through, what appears to be dark, cold, and wet. I am amazed at the wisdom available in this place, that continues to fertilze the soil within me that is baring this seed. I am am humbled. With such humilty, I am available for even more growth. Thank God.

  • Karen

    How perfect – I love the image of that sprout you see in the cement! That tenacity is what I want in my life. Thank you for reminding me ..

  • Karen

    thank you Jen, I so honor Lori for giving my thoughts another home 🙂

  • It honors me that you’re part of this home. =)

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  • Izzati

    Thank you for this, this helped me so much. Thank you 1000x times!

  • Enrobinson1

    This was beautiful.. Just when I thought no one understands what I feel, I read this beautiful blog that places everything in perspective… Thank you!

  • Never in my life have I read such an inspiring and boosting aritcle.It totally opened my mind and made me see bad things and situations from another point of view…it swept my insecurities away and made me want to try!!


  • We’ve all tried something new before, let alone starting a new life, and likely have experienced some promising results only to be let down in the end. In fact, many people searching for an answer of how to get success dread taking action once they find an answer because subconsciously they believe the result will only be temporary.

  • When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.  This is beautiful.  It made me teary eyed. 

  • Angie wrote:  “Reading this article reminds me that I must let go of the death in order to find the life I’m meant to lead.”  I understand; I get it.  I really get it now.  I would spend hours talking to someone, who was there for me, when my brother passed and I have learned to let go.  Instead, I wait for my friend to call and it changes who I am.  When my friend calls now, we talk about babies and new life.  Change is amazing.

  • Vbannon

    Were it not for my kids being here, I would kill myself.  I don’t know why anyone wants to live.  This world is unimaginably miserable.  Where is joy?  Where is happiness except in the blind eyes of a child? Taking comfort and joy in newness, discovery, untainted by human cruelty and the superficial capitalistic eminence that is people.  Joy itself is superficial for its being derived by definitions of human society’s shallowness.  No person is happy.  They exist to attempt to feel worthwhile creating more humans who repeat the cycle.  We know no justification for life on earth.  We ponder, purchase, fake laugh, fake smile, all the while emptier than the glass of alcohol we just drank to numb our existence.  We exist to try and keep busy which manifests itself in politics, bad art, fake accomplishments, buildings so that architects can feel important and say they left their mark which will be destroyed and forgotten by wars or time denying that they don’t matter to begin with. I am someone because I screwed over enough people to have my little kingdom.  Look at me, us, we are meaningful, aren’t we?  Wait, maybe not. Join the suicide line, it’s pretty long.  But oh, wait, there is a consequence!!!  Oh no, someone created a deity that will punish me if I do that.  The holy one flows through the church which, oh my goodness, has political power and control over the people through, oh my gosh gosh, a direct hotline to GOD!!!!  Shit, I better comply or I might, oh no, die!!!  Not die?  To leave the other miserable people on this earth I have surrounded myself with?  But maybe they will make it better for all the millions of innocent children born into starvation who wonder WTF?  Tell me why.  One of you, tell me why.  I have some bullshit duty to stay alive to be alive for the children that came from the womb of my cheating, soulless, materialistic cyborg?  I am a robot.  I respond to lady gaga, the mall, TV, manipulate me.  I am here to have a pleasurable moment and think I belong here for this. 

    This may depress you but if you have a brain maybe it will make you do the right thing and end it. So respond, please.  Tell me I need help. Help?  Help?  What is help? 

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  • Octtives47

    I like this verry much thank u

  • Melodymangual

    This article was amazing. I just spent an hour crying my eyes out because I feel that I’m going know where fast. I feel as if I”m being held down, while helping others get to where they want to go. I just dont know where to go from here without hurting the most important people in my life. My children

  • Kyo

    Thanks. 🙂 I hope the seed will find it in her heart to get cracked open again despite the pain.

  • Maz

    Love the seed….
    carpe diem!

    or as bob Marley said ‘wake up and live’

  • ravi kiran pradhan

    Thank you for such words of wisdom…..i was lost in the journey of life caught between boy and a man. …..i feel like a new seed and like the sprout, the new personality in me has just cracked open and i have just starting to embrace it. ……..i am financially weak at the moment but i know like the seed i will grow strong…….. thank you for posting this message. ….. just gives inspiration to move forward and hope that one can overcome that once thought was a failure. ……….peace and love ,/,,

  • CH Goh

    how to plant seed for new beginning?