Life is cyclical. Spring brings with it fresh shoots of newly awakened seedlings, while more established plant-life bursts forth with power and confidence. Their flowers provide opportunities for pollinators to collect and nourish themselves while, perhaps unknowingly, spread pollen so that future plant fertility may continue. Newly emergent seedlings, as well as the more permanent vines, shrubs and trees, have a great deal to teach us about our own internal ways of growth, learning and embodiment.
The seedling doesn’t rush to flower, as its potential lies in its ability to establish strong root systems. Certain plant families don’t bear fruit until they have had ample amount of time to get comfortable. We too are similar to the plant kingdom in this way; we all have our own internal rhythms to guide us. Yet, we are not only like the individual plants, but the whole collective of the forest as one, much like we are not only the tree, but also the root systems, the incredible inter-web of mycelium, the flowers and ferns and bushes of berries. We’re even the different creatures who inhabit these ecosystems, from the large bear to the jumping cricket.
The facets of our individual beings are so astounding, so remarkably profuse, it is hard sometimes to see ourselves clearly. We often portray an isolated aspect of our being at any given time. While each of us represent entire ecosystems, some of us spend so much time living up in the canopy of our lives, we forget the ground below also has much to teach us, if only we allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to climb down.
For many years I have taken heed to Satish Kumar’s idea of “Soul, Soil and Society.” Rather than the notion of “mind, body and spirit,” which I believe has its place and benefit, “Soul, Soil and Society” reminds us that we are not here merely for the benefit and development of the individual self. We are also here to give back to our earth, who continues to provide us with a plentiful, yet finite resource base, and also to the people around us.
In my own life, I have seen the patterns of cycles play out again and again. As with the seasons, there is a time for birth, growth, decay and death. This affects all areas of our life. The medicine wheel teaches us about this. The east is where ideas are born, the south is where they come together. The west is where we see the product and reflect and the north is where we take wisdom. We are constantly spiraling through the evolution of our own personal, transformative journey.
With this, growth is not, should not, be like that of a marry-go-round. We do not, should not, continue to move round and round in the same circles. This is the cause of dis-ease, a lack of ease so-to-say, manifest in our bodies and mind as ailments, reflective of a lack of growth and embodiment of our truest potential. A stagnate body of water harbors illness.
This, of course, is not to discredit the ways in which pollution of our food, water and air have also contributed to disease. As a collective, humanity has perhaps spent too much time in the canopy as well, enjoying the high life of superb views and the false sense of safety found up here in the branches, without seeing how our waste spills and covers the ground beneath us. In time the trees we have so long clung to begin to rot from the base because our foundations are no longer healthy. We have forgotten to care for our soil.
Back to cycles… Healthy cycles of personal and collective development, if done properly (and I believe by the rules of universal flow, if looked at from a large enough scale will always follow this model) are always expansive, moving upward and out. We may revisit similar themes, but each time we make our way around what we may perceive to be a circle, by the time we revisit the lesson we are no longer the same person. We don’t have to relive the same dramas because we have the opportunity to consciously create new results. We have the opportunity, if we wish, to recreate ourselves as a new, more revitalized, wiser and more whole human being. Each moment we let life know what kind of human being we would like to be.
Where do you live in the forests of your life? What season do you see reflected in the themes that present themselves to you? Does life feel like a merry-go-round, is there stagnancy, or do you find yourself walking the spiraling staircase towards a new and exciting future?