Updated: Oct 14, 2020
This morning, as always, I woke up at 5.30am for 30 minutes of meditation and then onwards to a run in the park and along the Isar river. Without too much thought, I turned on a light while I was getting dressed to go, and then realized the sun was only then just starting to rise. It was the first time I had noticed the dark mornings starting to creep in.
I spent my run listening to music and looking at the trees – realizing that it was time again for the deciduous among them to surrender the summer and transform themselves into the rich colors of Autumn: one of my favorite seasons here in Bavaria.
I run this route a lot, so I have watched these trees cover their bare winter branches with hopeful spring buds, and then burst into summer greens turning light into life. I’ve watched them manifest each season so artfully, not really seeing the change until it was too late to appreciate its delicacy. We’ve had a beautiful summer in Bavaria, and there has been no indication that it was coming to an end, even into mid-September. But this morning’s air was noticeably cooler and the park’s energy felt darker and different, so I took more notice of the trees and the birth of their next journey into Fall – the ultimate commitment to the circular process of life.
There has always been a clear metaphoric connection between nature and our own human journey. In Buddhism, the Lotus flower’s symbolism stems (no pun intended) from where it grows: in the mud. The deeper the mud, the more beautiful the Lotus flower. Acorns grow into majestic Oaks, and The Tree of Life depicts a large tree with roots spreading inward to the physical and branches spreading upward to the spiritual. It’s no surprise then that this morning’s run has sucked me into a philosophical vortex.
As with everything in my life, if I experience it – I must process it and then write about it, so I’ve spent the day thinking about how I manifest my own intuitive input and output - consciously or not - to transform and adjust to constant change.
Ten years ago, I was offered the gift of learning Transcendental Meditation. Now, I’ll freely admit that I don’t have a particularly good batting average for my afternoon meditation sessions. The day gets ahead of me and time starts to play for the other team, or so it seems. But my morning sessions are a prelude to the day ahead, and I use them as a way to settle myself into a space where I am able to spiritually, emotionally and even physically transform into whatever the day requires of me. It’s a way to navigate myself around situations that seem less fluid than me; a way for me to adapt and change without it costing me too much of myself.
This is a great example of how transformation can literally…well…transform who we are and how we manage ourselves in a myriad of situations. Life can be frustrating and arbitrary, but that doesn’t mean we can’t manage it. We aren’t looking to know the unknowable; we are looking to find the tools within us to adapt and survive whatever changes come our way. Responding to a situation is not enough – we must adapt to it and evolve from it.
All living things, sentient or otherwise, were created to grow, and growth requires adaptation and change. Spiritually, physically, energetically; in form or appearance, in expression or function, transformation can mean a million things to one person, or it can mean one thing to a million. It is not characterized by a single definition or manifestation and, as such, it puts us in control of how we define it - how we bring it into being. Plants will twist themselves into Pretzels to find a spot in the sunlight, while animals change their entire physicality to ensure survival. It doesn’t matter how we manifest transformation within the finer context of our own experiences, it only matters that we do.
Curiosity about who we are and why we are here is part of our essential nature. Self-discovery means understanding the territory: where did we start and where are we going? Every part of us – our bodies, emotions, minds, and our human experiences – provide pieces of our puzzle - they lay out the roadmap of our future, and give us tools to change what we need to survive. Experiences, like seasons, require some form of adaptation, but not everything needs to be transformed at the same time, and some things might not need to go through transformation at all. It could also be that some parts of us are in the perfect space at the perfect time. The key is how and when we prepare for the change so that, not only do we survive our human experiences, but we walk with them and not behind them.
As we grow older, the sum parts of who we are become more complex as our experiences come and go and our knowledge evolves. These sum parts are the tools given to us from an evolutionary life – a life spent in consistent, effective adaption and reevaluation. Without them, we can’t challenge or change the system of meaning that we hold as a basis for self-definition. Without them, our interpretation of who we are remains the same….and the circle of life, so evident in nature, reminds us that nothing truly survives if it remains the same.
And this is the key to living a transformative, evolutionary life: accepting change, adapting to it and not just embracing the part of the cycle of transformation – but loving it – because the one thing I know about life is the one thing I know about seasons: Just when you get used to it…it changes!
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