Over the years, I’ve noticed something in my backyard. The only place my lilacs bloom are at the top of the bush. Why? Because the higher branches hover over the ones below, keeping them in the dark. Apparently, the family who lived here before liked the way they looked, because they pruned them this way. It doesn’t mean the lilacs aren’t there in the womb of darkness. If given the gift of light, they’d be blooming in abundance.
I suppose this is a metaphor for life, right? Given the right opportunities for growth, we’d all be thriving. While plants and trees need water and light for survival, so do we. Yet, while we all need essentials to survive, what do you need to flourish? Is it encouragement or love? Is it education or opportunities? Although it’s apparent to the naked eye when lilacs are blossoming, how do you know when you’ve reached that same point with your life?
I used to think it was acknowledgment at my job. The more accolades I received, the more I swelled up with pride. Getting grants, being accepted into certification programs, winning awards with service learning groups I sponsored…Once I was diagnosed with Cervical Dystonia, some of that went away because the truth was I just couldn’t take it on anymore. However, when my symptoms got so bad that I had to take medical leave, all my marks of success disappeared too.
What’s wrong with placing all your eggs in one basket? When you retire or leave your job, you might feel like your purpose has disappeared. Since going on long-term disability, I’ve been searching for my purpose. Living with chronic pain, my options feel very limited. Perhaps, my purpose is just to get through one more day. Or maybe it’s to share my experiences via this blog. Neither of these options feels very fulfilling. I want more, something that goes beyond myself so that I somehow make a difference in other people’s lives. That’s what I’m accustomed to anyway.
But perhaps, we need to slow down and know that we are good enough exactly the way we are. That tiny buds are just as good as the lilacs that spread throughout the shrubs. That the overall scent is just as good from the ground. And that the petals are just as silky, no matter how far they fall. Even though it may take us weeks, months, or even years to feel the purpose in our own lives, rest assured we will find it. You never know when a lone lilac will peak through the darkness with the hopes that just one soul will reach out and take notice. Because that’s all it takes.