Have you ever planted the seed of a flower? How did you know it would grow?
The seed has no brain. No eyes. No map to the surface. There's no switch you flip that says, "And now you are in soil so you will grow!"
The seed just knows it's in soil. But what is it that understands this? Again, there is no brain. How is it the seed understands that the pull of gravity is where roots go? How does it even sense gravity? What is it sensing this with? And how does it process this and react accordingly? What if the seed misunderstood and grew sideways?
What if it didn't understand what roots are for, and it didn't absorb nutrients from the soil? Worse still, what if it came thisclose to sprouting, but it gave up because it believed the darkness would go on forever?
The idea that a seed has no idea how to become a flower seems illogical.
We know the seed's roots will grow down and it's head will reach up. We know the soil pressing upon it isn't suffocating or crushing it, it's bringing it to life. Even though we can't see it, we know it's growing, we know all is well. We know that in a single moment it will break free of the darkness and spring forth into the light. No matter how long it takes, we keep watering it, because we know there are divine forces guiding it.
There's a magic to the whole process, a magic we rarely think about, we simply take it for granted.
And yet, when it comes to our own dreams, desires and lives we lose all belief in the magic of this world. That very same divine energy that guides a growing seed permeates us too. It has to. How else could we go from being one single cell to a dynamic and complex being with a head, arms, organs and so on?
We do not live by different rules than the natural world. We aren't separate from nature. We are as natural and divinely guided as every flower on this earth. We are created from that same magic and we are the magic. It's in our DNA. It's in our life force. So why do we doubt that our dreams have their own divine forces guiding them to the surface?
When things we want don't blossom right away we tend to fall into despair and doubt. The more we doubt the more we give up on the seeds growing within us. We turn away from them, refuse to nourish them, and believe there is only barren soil within us. We neglect our inner garden and allow it to be taken over with the weeds of fear, anger and disappointment.
But it's okay. No matter how deeply they have taken root, all weeds can be ripped out. The soil can be replanted with love, happiness and excitement. And even though we can't see it happening, we will know, our dreams will blossom. We ourselves will blossom.
All we must do is trust in the divine forces that guide everything and continue to follow our intuition. Our intuition is the same thing that guides a seed's roots down and its head up. As our seeds grow within we can nourish them with positive beliefs, loving thoughts and encouraging feelings.
That's all we must do. Trust in the magic. Believe in what we can't see. Nourish the good stuff. Keep the weeds away.
And when there is that moment, that single moment, when it all breaks free from the darkness of gestation and springs forth into the light, we might take a moment to marvel in the magic. To give gratitude to the divine forces. To give gratitude to ourselves for bringing forth roses and orchids in a world that too quickly expects weeds.
Free Solo is the story of one man's quest to be the first person to climb El Capitan, which is 3,000 feet from base to summit, without any ropes or safety equipment.
It's just him and the mountain. The only thing keeping him on the granite as he climbs is his sheer will power and some tiny, often times imperceptible cracks. Watching him pull himself up and cling to the rock with nothing below him except air is incredibly surreal.
I've watched this film three times, and I could easily watch it again, with just as much reverence and awe as the first time. This is the kind of story that makes you question the limits of potential. We are all told we are capable of so much more than we know. And if we pushed those limits, what would we find?
As you look at the photo below, keep in mind there is nothing supporting him. If he slips, he's going to free fall to his death. He got himself up there by his own physical and mental strength, and only he can ensure he gets down safely.
It's incredible what we can each truly do. Which isn't to say you would or could do this - but you have your own personal version of free climbing El Capitan, and only you know what it is. And you will climb it, by sheer will and inner strength, as soon as you too believe that you can.
It's hard to explain just how powerful the images in this movie are. The scenery is breathtaking. The heights are dizzying. And the feat being accomplished will make you gasp and sit on the edge of your seat.
It isn't just the climb that's incredible. The team assembled to film this did so in such a way that you'll feel as if you're there. They got us in there, without ever being in the way of Alex. In several shots of the movie, you see the cameramen and just how precarious their situations were as well. To film this was an extraordinary accomplishment in itself.
It's no surprise this film took home this year's Oscar for best documentary.
Last night, I rented this and showed it to my family. I loved showing this to my nieces and nephew, and seeing them get inspired by it also. I loved feeling that energetic rush of knowing I just witnessed something powerful and ground breaking.
When you get a chance, check out Free Solo. It's currently available to rent, and might even still be showing somewhere near you. You can find a list of current showings here: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/films/free-solo/screenings
The last few days I have felt myself sliding into feelings of doubt and fear.
I kept trying to fight it, to bring myself back to hope and optimism. But this morning I couldn't do it. And so I didn't. I didn't get up and get to work like I usually do. I didn't read the news or listen to a podcast. Instead, I sat quietly in my chair, looking out the window.
I sat with my heavy feelings. I sat with my fear. I sat with my worries over the future. I sat with the feelings of discord and breaking apart that keep rising up around me. I fought nothing and surrendered to it all.
After awhile, I started to remember simple things that are still beautiful and perfect about this world.
Snow slowly falling over pine trees. Morning fog that makes everything feel soft and calm. Rain drops on the window. Hugs from friends. Fiction books, travel books and pretty much all books because books are the best. And so are libraries. And so are people who work in libraries. People can be pretty great.
As my feelings softened I didn't leap right from the heavy feelings to the light. I wasn't ready to jump out of my chair and shout my happiness to the world. But I had come back to my center, and from that centered place, I asked myself if sitting around all day, paralyzed by heavy feelings, is what I want to remember myself doing when I'd felt stuck while facing a challenge.
I made some coffee and thought about it more.
If my future self was looking back on me, twenty years from now, what would she want to see me doing? What will she be glad I did? What will she want to change?
As I sipped my coffee, I could feel that thinking of things I still love about this world was a positive step. It was getting me back to my inner light. I could feel that I want to focus more on what I want, rather than what I'm afraid of.
I also wanted to honor my need for rest. Fear and doubt generally come from a place of not feeling secure in myself. If I try to fight the fear, it's going to fight me right back.
It was time to pause, breathe, and remember that I am deeply loved and cared for. It was time to know that my future self would thank me for resting, because that rest recharged me enough to get back in there, dream bigger, and reach higher.
If you're feeling lost, afraid, or just overwhelmed, try this simple yet powerful exercise. Close your eyes, and imagine you future self walks into the room. What does it want to tell you? How did it get where it is? What would it want to change about the path you're on? What would it say to comfort you and to remind you of your potential?