Every spring I spread a handful of my now 8-year old arugula seeds over the early spring soil. And every year a small lawn of arugula emerges. It looks like nearly every seed germinates. Hardy, more impervious to weather and moisture fluctuations than a lot of my greens, they haven’t yet failed to sprout.
Every year I think the same thing – surely by now these old seeds are dead. And every year, I’m wrong.
A client who worked as a farmer brought me those seeds. She’d barter part of her fee with grass-fed meat, organic eggs and a wonderful variety of vegetables. And once she brought me this hefty quantity of arugula seeds hand-harvested from the farm.
Is there a point to this story?
Yes, thanks for asking – there are several – one broad and one personal.
Spring is when we are most aware of life popping from dead-looking limbs, seeds and earth. Spinach, arugula, lettuce and coriander are growing in my raised bed right now even though it still freezes at night and has occasionally snowed since I planted them. Seeds are amazing if you let yourself think about them. Rattling around in seed packets, they look absolutely lifeless, inert. When planted in proper conditions, they break open and reach toward light.
(Look for a blog post coming soon about that little phrase “breaking open.)
But never underestimate the power of a seed – the literal seeds for planting or the metaphoric seeds waiting in you. Many clients begin therapy, not only when something painful or challenging has happened or is happening but when they “know” that something has to change. This knowledge is a seed.
Second, please consider that you are never too old or worn out for change and growth.
I recently turned 60 and it was a big deal emotionally. I think I thought I’d be all grown up by now. When I took the time to explore why I was so sobered by entering my 7th decade, I discovered regret, gratitude, reminiscence, sadness, hope, acceptance, and then finally, a deep belief that as Stanley Kunitz writes in his poem, The Layers, “I am not done with my changes.” (This is a poem worth reading, especially if you are in middle or later life.)
I have some ideas and dreams for my 60s – seeds still wanting to germinate. And I’ve worked with many clients from their early 20s into their 70s who bring seeds, that while initially dead-looking, are embedded with potential and hope.
Pain, loss, death, transitions, anxiety, depression, past trauma – none of these easy – can all be seeds. These experiences and symptoms point us to something that needs attention. When we are willing to go in the direction of our difficulties with care and kindness for ourselves, we find those seeds more ready to break open, stretch toward warmth and grow into new life. Easy? No. Possible? Yes.
What seeds might be wanting to sprout into something new, healthier or invigorating in you?
Brenda Hartman-Souder May 2022