We have a whole choir of luminous orange poppies out the front of our house. When we first moved in I found them over-bright, brash, but I’ve come to my senses now. They wave their glorious flags for a day or two before the petal tatters float to the ground, leaving stems tipped with a black cross.
New buds are emerging all the time – a hundred of them – and I like to clip the spent stems to make way for them.
Last year I attacked the stems with my secateurs, overwhelmed by the task ahead of me, holding bunches of three or four at a time and clipping off more than a few buds by mistake. As I worked I felt pressed for time and slightly grumpy.
Today, I took my time. I snipped each sturdy stem individually. I noticed that the old stems were a different colour – everso-slightly more yellow than grey-green. I was accompanied by humming bees who breakfasted on the blooms that were out. I chanted quietly as I worked, straightening up to say hello to the dog-walkers, to nod at the teenagers on their way to school.
During breakfast, I had a tinge of familiar guilt-and-panic. I’d been lazing around all morning – I should hurry up and get to work!
And then I remembered that I’d actually spent three quarters of an hour working already, doing a job that was on my list of things to do. By five past nine, I’m already most of the way through this blog post.
When we change, the part of us that behaves in the old way can kick up a lot of fuss. It wants us to stay the same. It thinks it’s helping – we probably learnt our old behaviour in order to keep ourselves safe, or alive. Entering into new territory always makes us feel vulnerable – we really don’t know if we will be okay. Imagine belonging to a tribe who’ve done a ritual every morning, going back generations, to make the sun comes up. Easier to do the ritual than risk it, isn’t it?
The twinge this morning was from the part of me that feels like I must work hard and feel stressed in order to earn enough money and look after myself and be safe. This must-work-hard part is feeling pretty threatened by this new state of being – this relaxed and trusting way of being in the world.
I am trying to be kind to it – reassuring it, asking it to trust me, to just wait and see. It’ll continue to have panics, and sometimes it will push me back into my old behaviours. That’s okay – change takes time. And if I can get out of the way, change is marvellously inexorable.
What parts of you are ready to change? How can you stand aside and let yourself be transformed?
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Poppy in the Rain by John ‘K’ with gratitude