It was in a moment when a friend told me about a sunflower she had kept indoors. It had grown so unexpectedly tall, bending as it reached the ceiling, endlessly searching for sunlight.
Have you ever noticed how we hunch over and hide as we walk amongst each other. Seedlings, we start out playful, trusting, passionate and persevering. We need to talk about what hardens us as adults. Things we think will never happen to us inevitably do, we feel things we can’t process, and we harden.
As children, we are restless with questions for which we demand and expect answers. By adulthood, we rudely awaken to the fact that sometimes things happen for which there are no answers, things for which we simply aren’t prepared, and there is no sugar coating sweet enough to soothe. We are perhaps at such times reduced to an infantile vulnerability which we do not have the time or patience to re-parent by healing or nurturing. We protect our children as long as we can by preserving their innocence, but at some point, we forget to protect ourselves and end up shedding our own innocence. As an adult in today’s terror struck competition strife global circus, I want to re-learn, how to grow as sunflowers in this concrete minefield.
I read many “how to” lists, articles addressing areas of life where we may have been rudely awoken. These articles offer steps to achieve relationships, health, success or even would you believe “happiness”. The purpose i suppose to motivate the reader into revolutionary action. Truth being such approaches often leave us feeling a little inadequate, or perhaps a lot so. I have done steps one to five on how to heal my heart, so why do I still feel so low? I don’t think having arbitrary expectations of ourselves is healthy in principle. When anti-climatic real life goes ahead and happens beyond our control, we plunge into depression, unappreciative of our blessed-even-at-its-worst reality. We need to muster up the courage to talk about the truth of life, and thus re-plant it’s natural beauty. Sometimes things happen for which there are no answers. That’s ok. Look at the patterns in your individual context that have led you to where you are, and be still, while you choose to change what you need to to achieve a different result. That’s just the way life is. We need to acknowledge our reality, much like a sunflower in a living room, happy and content with just one small pot of soil, and we will grow.
There is an eery uncertainty looming around us at this moment in history; anxiety is almost natural. Not knowing or being able to control what exactly will happen in our lives doesn’t have to rob us of our peace. Being able to make the right choices when inevitably unfortunate events do occur should be our focus. Realistically, if we want to help, inspire or motivate one another to lead healthier, happier and more peaceful lives, we might well start by being kind. Let’s give each other permission to be the most human version of ourselves that we can be, respecting that bad things happen to people on a daily basis. Let’s remind ourselves we are not in a race against anyone, but ourselves, if our own happiness is our true goal. Let’s walk amongst one another and not expect anything of one another while we individually try to heal, and lets just “be”. If we strengthen our own, we will collectively find the strength to grow past the pests that have poisoned our garden.
As children we are curious in our exploration, fearless in our love. We are guided to make choices that will add nutrients to the soil from which we will grow. As we make choices, our stems grow, and our life unfolds to reveal flowers and sometimes thorns. We are surprised at how steep the journey will feel at times. No one can tell us what we are looking for, and no one tells us how to bend when we don’t find it. No one tells us how to talk about how we feel when heartbreak, grief, terror or stress grow like weeds in our fairy tales. And the thing about emotions, well they are part of our design, and hold they key to our humanity. We need to talk about them, to ourselves, if nobody else. Pain is, until it isn’t. We feel the way we do, until we don’t. We make choices, and they have consequences, and life happens whether we are ready for it or not. The only thing we can ever really do is learn to make positive choices at times which fit our own unique mazes and puzzles, and be kind to others trying to do the same thing. It’s just the way life is, and distorting that, distorts our ability to grow as we naturally would. The only way we can avoid becoming numb to our emotions, numb to our humanity, is to give ourselves the green light to feel what we need to feel when we need to feel it, and give each other the courtesy of space and acceptance during such times.
History proves horrors have forever plagued our world. Difference today is the cameras. Cameras ensure we don’t miss a thing. Media ensures we misunderstand most of it. Life meanwhile has us making choices, dealing with natural circumstances, testing our ability to process everything we are seeing, hearing, experiencing and feeling, in a pressure cooker. Our skin can sometimes feel as hard as the concrete walls that house us. If we look up we might notice that the majority of humans around us are going through the very same thing. Feel it, take as much time as you need to process it, and be exactly who you need to be to grow past it. Even if we cannot actively water one another, we can at the very least not tread on each other. We all want to grow upwards after all, so why are we getting tangled before we have a chance, in hate, fear, competition and greed, dooming us all to wilt. Let’s not look downwards, or at each other, let’s look up in the direction we need to grow.
It might be the love you thought would last forever. It might be the grief of loss. Loss of a parent, a child, a family member, or a friend. It might be the breaking news flashing red across our screens. Truth is, we all lose our sleep somewhere along the way. Tired by our experiences and images, the number of people we trust and let in drops to a mere handful. We harden to the idea of love, peace and acceptance, and so unknowingly turn the page at the chance of it. What if we write a new chapter of love. What if the very day our hearts fall to the ground in a million pieces for whatever reason, we choose love as the glue to put ourselves back together. Someone once told me, the worst thing you can say to someone chaotic in emotion is, “calm down”. Similarly, when in a well of pain, it is not always welcome to hear someone say, choose Love right now. Fact is, Love is the only choice we should never stop making. In our darkest days, by loving ourself, or those around us, we offer lifelines, and creates lifeboats. We don’t need walls to live within, we need fields open wide planting seeds of love offering oxygen to a dying world. And after all, loving someone, is to love them for who they are, in times of happiness and sorrow, for better or worse. So let’s love the world and our lives just as they are, and be still in our pain. Let’s allow ourselves the time and space we need to grow past this phase. We all know pain. It actually unites us, should we let it not divide us. Pain is no reason to stunt our growth. Let love be the only supplement you take.
I don’t want my daughter growing into someone who’s hardened so much she can’t feel sunlight when it touches her skin. My childhood song, the one that soothes me to this very day is you are my sunshine. it’s a song that reminds me to love, no matter what. I think thats why this sunflower struck me as it did. We are sunflowers in a concrete world, and we can all grow side by side. What a sight a field of sunflowers can be. Will you grow with me, at your own pace, in your own time, because you are my sunshine, my only sunshine …