Growing Seasons

CopperSeed

Everyone goes through a growing season, even though at first it might not be easily identifiable as you experience it. A growing season is defined as the time that plants experience the maximum amount of growth successfully. People have them too, but they aren’t always as long or as short as a plant’s growing season.

The past year has been challenging. Few things remain from the life I led one year ago. Growing seasons push you out of your comfort zone, ask you to get real with yourself, and in the end you are better for it. At the time it’s just like the seed in the quote, you are sure you are completely losing it. You feel like your guts could come out, and you are raw material. You feel the complete destruction. In the past year I doubted, I wondered, I wandered, and I lived. I made mistakes, and in reality, that’s probably the thing I did the most. Even though I was hurt and confused and I felt I had most likely offended the universe greatly to have all the things happen to me that way, I knew it would all end up okay.   Hard times had hit before, and then I wasn’t so sure I’d come out of it in one piece. This time, I knew I might not come out of it in one piece, but brokenness could be just as valuable. When you are broken, something beautiful could very well come out of the brokenness. To a seed, that’s the only way to make a flower: complete destruction.

Now that I feel this growing season slowing down I’ve decided it’s not enough just to flower. I don’t want to flower and die. I am not going to be an annual. I would rather be a perennial. Annuals are beautiful, and they bloom so bright and pretty. However, annuals sprout, flower, seed, and die in one growing season. I know I won’t actually die, but I also don’t want this to be the end. I want to keep on growing.

Perennials have it a little tougher. They persist. They have to take measures to prevent not dying off during the time when they are not in their growing season. Some build structures in order to survive the other seasons when they are not in bloom, such as bulbs or seeds. They have shorter blooming periods, but when placed with other plants with blooming periods that are not the same as theirs they help provide beauty even after their season is over. Some even keep their leaves year round and return to bloom year after year.

Just like flowers, that’s what people need. They need to be surrounded by other “perennials” that have different growing seasons so they can all help each other be the most beautiful as they flower. Where we are “planted” matters. Where we are planted can change a perennial into an annual if planted where they don’t grow best. We all want to grow. We all want to be brilliant flowers. We just have to find the right amount of sunlight, the right amount of rain, and grow.

Broken Cellphones (and people.)

On my way out the door this morning, tragedy struck at precisely 6:37 a.m. in my garage.  My cell phone decided to leave the warmth of my hands, and to fly violently toward the concrete and land in a way that can only be described as sickening.  In true INFJ fashion I started wondering immediately what it all meant.  What connection did I feel to my broken cellphone? After all, it is not just a cellphone.  It is my calendar.  It is my connection. It is my contact to the outside world when face to face is not an option.  It is my friend.  What does it all MEAN? (Yes, I see that look on your face.  And yes, I did in fact have all of those thoughts at 6:37, and if not then, definitely by 6:40.  I can’t help it if I’m a morning person.)

The way it broke was spectacular. It was the glass, the surface, the outer layer that the damage happened to, and it didn’t just shatter immediately.  There was a big ugly smashed place where it looked awful, and for about half a second I thought the worst had past, but I watched as a spider web of more and more cracks spiraled all the way around the glass and covered the entire front screen.

Humans are like that.  We are optimistic when we get hurt.  “Just a flesh wound,” we think, when in reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth.  Ground zero is just where it starts, the real damage is done once that initial crack is there. Soon, the outer shell of our humanness cracks so much that it seems just about hopeless.  Before long, our brokenness changes the way we see everything.  It becomes a filter through which we see the world.

The next thought that crossed my mind was whether the phone still would make calls and texts.  What happens once something is broken?  Is it still usable?  As it turns out, yes, sometimes things can look beyond repair at the moment, but still function, even if not at 100%.  At times when I used my phone today, I felt shards of glass fall out of the phone.  Sometimes they stuck to my finger.  Other times, they dropped to the floor making me hope I don’t find those the hard way.  With almost every use, I was wishing my phone was in one piece again.  Then something odd happened.  I got used to the brokenness, and started feeling as though if forced to, this broken shattered phone could become my new normal and I could use it this way indefinitely.  Each and every time I had convinced myself of this, I would attempt to do something on the phone and my fingertip would be sliced.

Isn’t that just like humans?  When forced into a reality that is downright terrible, we will try to make the best of it.  We can entertain ideas that we will be able to make things work.  We make excuses for people, and we maintain relationships that are broken beyond repair because we tell ourselves it is just the surface.  It is just that outer layer that is broken.  Deep down, everything is fine, functional, and we can deal.  But, just like my phone, those relationships will cut us; they will surprise us with the wounds they create.  We can know it is broken, and still be shocked that we got hurt once again, and we feel foolish for being so shocked by it.  Humans are quite different, because usually a cracked exterior is just a sign there is a deeper problem on the inside.  Humans, unlike cell phones, crack from the inside out.

At the end of the day,  I took my phone to the mall and had it repaired.  I have a cellphone that looks like new, and a sore finger from the shards of glass poking me all day.  Tomorrow, I’ll hold my phone a little tighter, and protect better than I did today.  In a few days I will have probably forgotten the inconvenience of having this happen entirely.  With broken people, it’s not that simple. We can’t just take shattered people to the mall and get a new outer shell for them to wear.  With humans, the choices are not as simple as choosing to replace the glass, buying a different phone, or getting an upgrade, but wouldn’t it be nice?