Yesterday my family and I went to visit one of my most favorite places: Old Westbury Gardens. Each spring we take a trip there (this year our trip happened to be the day after junior prom so we took my daughter’s prom date/boyfriend as well). We walk through the mansion, full of a family’s treasures of a bygone era, and the gardens that were planted so long ago. Each year, we see the new growth spring has brought forward with the season and all of its beauty (I find all seasons to be beautiful–each in its own way).
On this trip, I overheard one of the docents saying that if the children of the house did not know where their mother was, chances are she was outside looking after her beloved roses. That’s such a lovely thought. I find nature so restorative as I am sure this mother did too. As the world becomes more and more technology-driven, it is my hope that humanity remembers the beauty of nature and the outdoors. There are so many benefits to being outside. You aren’t being passively entertained, for one. You become present to the beauty around you. You also naturally begin to decompress. Nature is very grounding.
Spring represents new growth. After months of lying dormant, flowers begin to bloom and trees once again wear their cloaks of green. This season is a wonderful metaphor for life. Who hasn’t been through a challenge, wondering when the pain would end or what lesson they were supposed to be learning? Like the cold winter, you feel as though you are hibernating, laid bare and vulnerable to the harsh reality around you. But as the weather/life warms up, you begin to shed your insecurities, your anger, your sadness. You begin to bloom. You realize you’re emerging from the challenge with new strength, new vitality, and wisdom accumulated from the challenge life has brought you. You aren’t harmed, you aren’t broken–you recognize you’re whole.
Each challenge is like a winter–you go inward like hibernation, to heal. You emerge more beautiful than before.
When you get stuck and define your life by the challenge, you don’t move through your own natural cycles. Instead of a glorious springtime, you are in the holding pattern of winter. You may not feel like coming out of hibernation. You may not feel like presenting to the world how beautiful and vulnerable you are with your new growth. But then it happens: In due time, you, like springtime, come back again. Personal growth is like that. Its rhythms and cycles of dormancy then growth are not on any kind of timetable. It ebbs and flows according to your own ability to heal and grow.
One quote that I love that got me through my divorce was “Suffering is not seeing things as they really are.” (I think that is Stephen Cope). The Universe knew that in order to grow, both my ex and I had to let go of this relationship. You have to readjust your life–your dreams, your days–to accommodate the new reality being presented to you. When my brother died suddenly, I had to readjust my reality to the new fact that he would no longer be here in the physical world. These “winters of readjustment” meant that my whole world–outer and inner would change. The ego gets frightened of change like this. It thought it was in control. But as you acclimate to a new life and embrace the present and future, you learn to move through life more fluidly. When you get stuck in suffering you lose the natural rhythm of all of life.
So as spring blossoms in our little corner of the world, I am reminded of the awesomeness of nature. Over a year ago, we experienced Superstorm Sandy and you can barely tell the damage that was done around here. Like nature, you have the ability to come back–to blossom into the person you were meant to be.
Life is too short to get stuck in the pain–allow yourself to cycle through it. Cycle through it so we can all experience your light, your brilliance, and what you have to offer the world.