Trying to live creatively and purposefully is not all fun and games. It takes courage sometimes. For all the joy and benefit that comes with intentional living, it’s still quite challenging to accept the changes it inevitably brings. Such living, of course, holds fallow periods, and surely periods of loss, too. Things, people, circumstances, positions, resources we thought we possessed (and deserved) go away. We feel stripped down, vulnerable. Unmoored.
This has happened to me.
I can say life is really good for me; I have good friends, my work is growing by leaps and bounds, and I’m learning what I am to do at this stage of my life. Still, I’m unnerved recently by a number of losses. If I made a list of the things that have gone away from me or that I have walked away from in the last two years, you would be astounded. I am astounded. Sometimes, I think it might just be too much. I wonder, what am I without all of those things that I loved so much, those conditions that made me feel safe and comfortable? I feel worry creep into my soul. Should I let this go? Or should I hang on?
And then I read this from Thich Nhat Hanh: “If you come to look deeply into your fearful attachment, you will realize that it is in fact the very obstacle to your joy and happiness.”
And so, my fear begins to subside. I refuse to rehearse the losses, though in the past I would have labored over making a very precise list. Today, instead of obsessing over the losses, I choose to see clearing. Things are clearing for me. Space is opening. I am relaxing. I am paying attention to myself and to others in a new way. And with all of this clearing comes clarity, openness, and a kind of ease.
I know something new is emerging. I am moving into a deeper, fuller, more content state of being. I am being prepared for the next level of experience, of service, of creativity. I am being shown my deepest creative capacities, and I am being given the time, resources, and vision to implement those capacities. My job is to accept.
Life wants me to Flourish — on its terms, not on mine. Life plants the original seed, and it creates the necessary conditions.
I grew up seeing Southern Illinois farm land prepared for planting. You clear out a patch of land, maybe cut down trees, pull up the wild growth with a backhoe. You get rid of obstacles in the land. You dig up roots and debris beneath the surface of the soil, all obstacles to your mission. If you’ve ever seen a farmer using a backhoe, you know this process of clearing land is disruptive, and even brutal. It’s back-breaking work. And sometimes heartbreaking, too.
But you keep on with the process. If you’re lucky, faith, resilience, courage move you forward. You till the soil, and give it good nutrients, and finally plant the seeds that you know will lie dormant for a while. They must incubate, absorb the darkness and richness of the soil, remain quiet and undisturbed by outside elements.
And this is an important part of this dramatic narrative: you put the seeds into the ground and you must relinquish control over what happens in the depths and darkness of the earth. You’re not in charge of that. Let it go.
But eventually, those seeds take root, germinate, and push through the surface, hungry for fuel only the sun can provide. A miraculous transference of energy takes place, a process far more complex than we can understand. Those seeds, fueled by Life, shoot into full flourishing. Something more creative, more mystical, more amazing than anything you have the ability to understand occurs. And eventually—given enough sun, water, and nutrients—plants begin to emerge, tiny and tender at first. And as you weed and hold good intentions for those seedlings, they begin to build strength and beauty. They emerge into something quite amazing. And all you can do is say thank you.
What have you lost lately? What has gone away? What are you afraid to let go of? What would happen if you thought of those losses as a clearing for new growth, a place for forgotten potentials to take root, a mind-space for something new and dynamic to flourish. What arena of your life is being cleared for planting? What seeds are you ready to sow?