Spring is beginning to take a firm hold on northern Georgia (finally). Some trees are still budding, some not quite even there yet, but that beautiful, life-affirming baby green colors much of the landscape around where I live. I was driving home from class this evening, and I noticed the crepe myrtle trees lining the highway. These trees are resplendent in summer with bright, vibrant colors, and I’ve been longingly anticipating their return over the past month. Right now, the trees are covered in puffs of muted, semi-brown/golden puffs that could easily be mistaken for dying leaves or blossoms threatened by frost. But in reality, they are really about to burst into bloom.
Many people I know right now are undergoing (resisting, anticipating, or dipping their toes into the water of) transformations, transitions, new beginnings, etc. As I gazed upon these trees which will soon be magnificently beautiful, I thought of how often we view (how often I have viewed) transformation, transmutation, transitions, and the like with a dreadful trepidation. How often I had (and not too far in the recent past) thought the transformation chasing after me and hunting me down was a death or dying of sorts, an overwhelming loss from which I would only painstakingly recover. How easy it is to mistake new life creeping out from under the thick layers of Self as death, as only an ending without a beginning to follow, as finality. And yet, in my experience, it is these situations and transformations that are frequently the most glorious, the most beautiful, the most life-giving and life-affirming.
This is not to say that there isn’t an aspect of loss or death of something when we undergo transformations. Usually, there is. But it is not as final as we might initially believe. It is the same as pruning plants to make way for new growth, for new birth. And just as cutting away at those plants might leave them looking a little sorry, temporarily speaking, because we have cared for them in this manner, they grow even more robust than we could have imagined. I think the same is true for our Selves.
I’ve said before that I had originally approached my last major transformation with feelings of bitterness and resentment. Why was it necessary? What was wrong with the way I was? Why did I have to change? Why did I have to lose my Self? I think most of us facing transformations (or running from them) throw these questions around our heads and chew on them till they lose their flavor, at which point we either keep chewing, denying the flavor is gone and that perhaps it’s time to seek answers because we are not ready to hear what those answers will be or we summon our courage, take a deep breath and wait, listening for them.
Truly, it takes a great deal of courage to face any type of transformation. I have run from many a transformation, and I have kicked and screamed and clawed my way through numerous others, bitching the entire time. Openly embracing them is definitely the exception for me. Each of us is different, and there is no assigning certain timings to anyone concerning when or whether they should embrace what is waiting for them. It is here, it seems to me, that inner knowing is at its most significant. The only one to know when or whether we are ready for what is awaiting us is our Self.
I hold true to my conclusions in that transformations are not a matter of losing our Selves, but becoming our Selves, our True Selves. And while there is a degree of death in all changes, a loss of sorts, and that loss is to be honored and perhaps mourned, we can lose the potency of the transformation and the beauty of it if we become so distracted by the loss that we forget to look for the life about to burst into bloom.