to bloom, you must first be a seed

Everything on this planet and in our lives is intertwined. In the words of John Muir, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

As an ecologist and gardener, I fully understand and witness this daily. The patterns and cycles of growth and decay in the natural world easily parallel human life experiences.

It’s fascinating how similar in pattern lung tissue, tree branches, blood vessels and river deltas look. (Borrowed form the interwebs)

Seeds in particular have become a focus of my life, both professionally and personally. Their biology and magic have lended plenty of analogies and life lessons. I’m not unique in this thinking. A quick Google search for “seed quotes”offers plenty. One of my favourites:

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” ~ Cynthia Occelli

Last fall, I was fortunate to attend an intensive 5 day Seed School Teacher Training offered by the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance. It was a life-altering experience for me. As my plane home was speeding down the runway, my mind was racing along with it, and an unexpected cascade of tears started flowing over my cheeks. I was a raw and weepy mess. I didn’t see this coming. I think my seed coat was coming undone.

Seed School Peeps
These are some of the beautiful souls I connected with at Seed School Teacher Training.

The yin and the yang of emotions sweet and sorrowful interplayed as soon as the plane had lifted from the ground. A heavy weight of sadness flooded over me. As the plane got faster and higher, I was being pulled from my seed people with whom I had made a lasting connection. I was getting grand views of our Earth, blistering and disfigured at the hands of humans. I thought about all the seed biodiversity lost, and the people from whom it was stolen.

I was reliving grief from my past; my cancer journey and my mother who I’ve missed terribly for 8 years now. I was sad for Ann (one of our classmates), as I thought of her bravely struggling with cancer and still showing up for seed school; and for Torrie (another classmate), who had two family members shot by a lunatic gunman in Las Vegas, while we were in school. For her, there was no better place than to process this tragedy than with her seed people.

At the same time, I was overflowing, heart wide open, and receiving gratitude and exhilaration! The earth viewed from above is beyond breathtaking. To soar through the clouds and feel our Mother Earth pulsing and breathing strongly, even though she is ill, consumed me. Our time together in Seed School, “vibing with our peeps” (inside joke!), created a shift within. I felt raw and vulnerable, but ready. Like a seed mustering up the forces to begin growth, swelling and energizing, finally shedding the seed coat to show myself.

Actually, no. I’ve already been there.

It’s more like my radicle, the first root structure a seed produces, was shooting out getting ready to dig in and get to work.

Actually, I’ve already been there too. I’ve built an elaborate root system already that is still growing.

Perhaps it was my first true leaves unfurling and receiving strength from the energy of the world around me. True leaves are the first time that a seedling must start receiving energy from the sun, water, and soil. They are no longer able to draw from the seed for sustenance.

After contemplating successive growth phase analogies that best reflected my experience (plant people, sheesh!), I finally realized.

I have already bloomed and gone to seed multiple times. An endless and evolving progression of adaptation, growth, and improvement with each moment, day, or year.

Mel mustards
Going to seed is a beautiful thing. It always involves flowers! This is me in a sea of Feaster Family Heirloom Mustard Flowers. There’s something indescribable about being surrounded by such life force.

The experience of Seed School, and significant life events contemplated from thousands of feet above the beautiful Earth shuffled me up a bit, and sent me off like a seed in the wind speeding off on the runway. Up, up, and away! One more phase of evolution, carrying hope and excitement for the future, but a little anxious of the unknown journey. Just like a seed.

Thank goodness for window seats. To process the weight of such magnitude while soaring quietly above the clouds gazing at our planet was a privilege I am grateful for. It was almost too much to bear, to be honest.

And so, the continual process of growing, evolving, and going to seed continues. It’s not easy work. There have been many times I’ve contemplated letting go. Growing is hard work, y’all. But when there is so much energy and life force, it’s unstoppable. This the energy that helped me overcome cancer, that brought me through the depths of grief, that keeps me pushing daily for the work I love.

Take wisdom from the life of a seed. Understand that it’s ok to shed things and let go, shuffle up a bit, unfurl and bloom. Keep solace in the reminder that life goes on in cycles, that we are are always learning and re-inventing ourselves, like a seed.

Charlotte Kesl for Working Food
Tending the garden alongside cilantro going to seed. (Charlotte Kesl Photography).

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