The Fertile Seed of Uncertainty

Whatever situation I find myself in today, and however uncertain it might appear, I’m going to imagine – just for now – that I landed there as a seed. No matter the challenges I face or the feelings they stir, I’ll be an incipient kernel of growth; plump with fecundity and eager to emerge. Maybe the wind blew me in or a beast excreted me where I lie, but I’ve landed where I’ve landed and have no means to move away.

Do I choose to germinate, or do I choose to resist?

As a human bean, I often sit in my fearful little seed shell and grumble ungraciously about my conditions. The weather’s not right or the other plants are too big. The soil’s not rich enough, the slugs too beastly and there aren’t enough pollinators popping by. Oh, and the irrigation’s lousy and there’s too much bloody leaf-litter in the way…

But whatever I find to complain about, and however much I judge, my location won’t change. This spot – right here, right now – is still where I’ll lie.  

And so in every moment, I have a choice: either to sink my roots into acceptance, germinating into the full potential of what is, or to contract within my protective seed-coat and shrink back from infinite possibility.

Do I succumb to the damp spores of victimhood, or do I burst forth and spout?!

A seed never knows what might happen, and it can’t predict or control its conditions. It’s a ripened little ovule of love, programmed for unconditional acceptance and belief. The acorn doesn’t lament its smallness compared to its mighty dreams; it simply commits to growth and expansion, rooting itself in what is.

What if I could do the same? To be with the present moment, however indeterminate and uncertain, and soften into it rather than clenching the fist of fear; to embed into the soil of the unknown, and send loving shoots into its infinite possibilities; to open up to all that’s around me, and grow unwaveringly towards the light?

It’s easy to panic when our seed-coat ruptures or to think things are going wrong when our growing pains begin. But the process of germination is an act of trust, and an exercise in patience and faith. It requires a willingness to surrender our mirages of immediacy and embrace the power of life’s transformative spasms instead.

We can flourish in the rich peat of uncertainty once we learn to trust its fertile depths, knowing it’s the spaciousness into which possibility flows and our most powerful fertiliser for growth. Without judgment or attachment, opportunities can blossom from the unknown like flora round an oasis; a bright and magical watering hole, surrounded by an unfolding of lush abundance.  We begin to see things as they are, not as we think we know them to be, and so the plants of possibility grow verdant and green. Unlimited by prohibitive herbicides of preconception, the seeds of possibility begin to release their gifts and sprout in gleeful abandon – familiar, and yet so enchantingly free.

This, then, is the most powerful substrate for our expansion, the magic grow-bag of the soul! 

And so, just for today, I’ll see how it feels: to nestle in, germinate with trust and unfurl towards the light, tickling the winds of change with my bravely growing tip.

A boggy bilberry, stretching gratefully towards the sun…

Photo by Bogomil Mihaylov on Unsplash.

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Braving the Blogosphere – Field Notes from a Wobbly Novice

For anyone climbing anxiously aboard the blogging-bus for the first time – wondering how to make sense of the bewildering array of route maps, unintelligible fare systems and suspiciously-stained seats on offer – please know that you’re not alone. And since it’s a process of travel rather than arrival, no direction can ever be wrong.

Whatever the route, every bus has ‘learning’ as its final destination, so it’s simply the commitment to keep boarding that counts. And like backpacking adventures in Asia, it’s those where we’re cheek-deep in chickens – balanced unsteadily on a plastic micro-stool in the aisle and dry-heaving at the puppetry of roasted frogs touted through the windows at every stop – that we remember most fondly afterwards.

As Crocodile Dundees of a virtual New York, it’s perfectly normal that so little makes any sense at first. From the giant skyscrapers to the vast shanty-towns around the edge, the bustling metropolis of Blogosphere is an endless Escher-like labyrinth, an illusory winding confusion of streets and suburbs without any full-stops. Investing in property there is a peculiarly bewildering brand of real estate, one where ‘entire world’ is the narrowest search term available and estate agents don’t even speak in recognisable sounds. And then there are the touts and insurance brokers, prophesying certain death unless you pay more than your monthly rent for protection.

It’s easy to feel like Alice in Blunderland, crumpled at the bottom of the online rabbit hole and blindly groping about in the dark.

And while every new realm has its oracle – its Wizard of Oz – a google search of ‘How to Start a Blog’ brings up such a bewilderment of co-ordinates that it seems far easier just to scupper the ship and be done. Information, advice, must-do’s, deadly warnings and Endless-Acronyms-You Don’t-Have-the-Faintest-Clue-About all jostle noisily for your attention, blinding you in a paparazzi burst of flashbulbs while demanding you strike some savvy, lip-glossed pose to boot (I tried to smile for them, I really did, but I only managed a grimace of crusted cold sores and my darn dress was caught in my knickers).

How can anyone master their first sailboat in this melee of jet-skis and fog-horning steamers? How have so many gone so easily before?

The truth is they haven’t. Like anything worth doing in life, the key lies in the humility to be a beginner, and the willingness to do it badly first. It’s a practice in prising away each suction cap of perfectionism and doing the serious work of lightheartedness, calling upon our inner toddler in the bathtub.

We learn by doing, and so the only choice worth making is to take the next small step. Make a decision – any decision – and jostle free the log-jam of overwhelm. Otherwise the sinkhole of never-ending research becomes a safety belt that’s too tight to reach the ignition key.

Failure isn’t at the opposite end of the train line to success; it’s every small, tumbledown station along the way.

And the aim isn’t to board exactly where you want to disembark.

It’s to ride through new landscapes and welcome each and every barbecued frog, come what may.

Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) from Pexels

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Thresholds – Fear of Beginnings

I’ve spent the majority of my life writing in various air-raid shelters of protection – furtively, secretly, shyly – while harbouring a deep longing to emerge into the light. I’ve never known the courage to claim each illegitimate child of creativity or the confidence to celebrate our relationship without fear. But it is the act of sharing that releases us from our own prisons, and I have dithered in mine long enough.

And so I’ve begun to massage away this creative arthritis, to slowly unclench the fearful fist of self-expression and loosen each contracted finger with gentle, consistent action.

As part of this, I resolved to start a blog as a training ground for my wobbly inner foal: somewhere to stretch its hermetic limbs, practice jumping small hurdles and begin exploring the paddocks of possibility outside.

But there is something pathologically terrifying about this public unclothing of the inner self. Like dreams where we find ourselves unspeakably naked in a job interview, it’s a horror of visceral wrongness; of baring the wobbly cellulite of the soul, the saddlebags of angst, the scary and hairy bits that are too awkward to shave. And of believing them to be unacceptable. This is the hot lava of shame that flows beneath the pavements of our lives, a blistering annihilation we might inadvertently plunge into without endless vigilance over where we step. The simple act of letting my words roam free feels like a free fall into this scalding abyss.

No wonder my fearful foal kicked in resistance and frothed endlessly at the mouth! Days passed, and the fences of procrastination grew taller. The weather of discomfort ebbed and flowed but the blog stayed firmly in the shell of its seed coat, reluctant to risk the perils of germination and grow up towards the light.

It was so easy to condemn myself for this, to declare myself a failure. And yet, much can be happening in an apparently dormant seed.  I recently read Rhik Sammader’s book ‘I Never Said I Loved You’, a powerful flash-bulb of reprieve in the shadows of self-despair. He describes meeting up with an old teacher at a time when he’s struggling to feel a sense of agency in his life, asking her,

 “How is movement even possible? There’s so much inertia”.

“The thing about inertia”, she replied, “is it’s what happens when the forces acting on an object are exactly equal. It doesn’t mean nothing’s happening”.  She drew more squiggles, indicating that taking away one side was as powerful as adding to another. ‘Is it acceleration you want, or to change direction?’”

Reading this, I felt a shifting of my tectonic plates. Procrastination isn’t a character flaw, or a manifestation of lack or laziness. It’s a temporary stalemate of strengths; the evenly matched power of two lightsabers and their bright polarities of will.

So much kinder to ask, ‘What is the equal and opposite force acting against my intention to do a thing?’ than to lash away at the soft animal flesh of ourselves, barely braved and quick to retreat.

Of course mine was Fear; huge, debilitating and bristling with state-of-the-art special effects.

And like its compatriot – Belief – it was just doing its best to look out for me. Fear was pulling me back from the precipice, tense and alert for danger, while Belief tugged impatiently forwards, excited and eager to explore.

How to loosen the muscle-cramp of this contraction? Not by pushing against it, which only cranks up its counter-strength and so tightens the spasm of resistance. We cannot punish the fear out of ourselves anymore than we can beat away pain – it’s a spiritual oxymoron.

Sometimes gentleness is the only way to soften strength; a surrendering of the desire to control, and an invitation for another type of energy to fill the space. My inner foal is convinced it can’t step into the arena unless it’s perfectly schooled in dressage, head held aloft in an impenetrable fortress of pride and faultless precision. To appear as its trembly, knock-kneed and neophyte self seems like self-crucifixion at an everlasting altar of shame, and so it kicks and bucks at any attempt to coerce it.

To coax it out requires acceptance, understanding, patience and friendship. It needs a playmate, not an authoritarian; someone to rough-and-tumble over these prickly thistles of perfectionism until they’re flattened by fun.  Someone to chuckle affectionately when it face-plants, and cheer it back up to its feet; someone to whoop with pleasure as they circle back together, take another run up and try that first jump once more.

And so I open the gate. Take the first tentative step in.

And have a jolly good roll in the horseshit.

I never liked that bloody dressage nonsense anyway.

Photo by Fabien Maurin on Unsplash

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