The Barriers to Our Blooming

Lifting the weights that crush us

Jan 01, 2021

Motivation Life Lessons Inspiration Goals Self-Improvement
flower buds blooming

Photo by Gilberto Olimpio

January 1st. It carries so much weight — both positively and negatively. It contains so much hope, and yet so much angst. Realistically, it’s just another day. But ideally, it can become so much more. A fresh start, a second chance, a new path forward, a do-over. We place so much expectation on this innocent day to deliver. We give it so much power. And so little room for error.

It’s 34 degrees outside, snowing, though it feels like 22. The ground is slush. I’m walking our dog for his afternoon walk. The weather app warns of an ice storm and the conditions are as awful as they sound. I consciously take each step so as not to slip and fall. There is no need to hurry, anyhow. Albert pulls in the direction of home; even he has no interest to be outside in this dreariness of a winter day. I look over at the huge plot of grass in the park next to us. Over the last few months, the city had laid large pieces of wooden floor boards on the grass to create a pathway for the ComEd (Chicago’s electric provider) trucks to drive onto from the street and reach a corner of the park. Apparently they were doing some underground electric work for the new high-rise buildings that were being constructed in the area. This last week, they finally removed the boards, as it seems the work was done. The poor patches of grass underneath had yellowed, withered, and essentially died. It was aesthetically not a pretty sight.

Come spring, it will regrow I’m sure. But for now, it lies flattened, parched, shriveled. And a thought occurred to me — what a brilliant metaphor for humans, for change, for the new year.

What are the “wooden boards” in your life holding you down, pressing against you and keeping you crushed, leaving you wilting away?

We all have them, whether they come in the form of other people in our life, our own sabotaging thoughts or bad habits, or past mistakes and hurts that haunt us. Heavy, soul-crushing weights that prevent our growth, our flourishing, and only serve to push us further to the ground. If they’re not removed, we wither away, losing our vibrancy and any desire to thrive. We become incapable of doing the one thing that is so innate in the natural world — bloom. Over time, the weights can become so exhausting to lift that we simply give up, accepting them as just a part of our life.

The strength it takes to remove the barriers in our life that stand in the way of our blossoming is tremendous. And yet, it lives inside of us. We are capable of so much more than we can imagine. It won’t be easy, or sudden, but it’s necessary work, honorable work.

Even if we manage to lift them off of us, or climb out from underneath them, regrowth will take time. And that is ok. Give yourself the time you need to heal and rise up, once again. Strive for cultivation, not completion.

As we near our apartment building, I turn back and look at the yellowed grass one more time, trying to picture it green again. It’s hard to imagine that something this far gone can come back to life, renew itself. But that’s the secret to realized dreams, isn’t it? Seeing what yet does not exist but is possible. Envisioning a future reality in the present moment. And then doing the work required to make that reality happen.

Turns out, the power never lived in a single day, on January 1st. The power is inside of us, cloaked in doubt and insecurities. Buried underneath wooden boards so heavy, we gave up trying to lift them. But alas, we owe it to ourselves to keep trying. With bruised fingers and crushed souls, we have to keep trying. The world may not be waiting with bated breath for us to bloom, but tell me, what else “is it you plan to do, with your one wild and precious life?” as Mary Oliver so eloquently asks.