August 1 – The Pain of Becoming – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

For the flower, it is fully open at each step of its blossoming.

We do ourselves a great disservice by judging where we are in comparison to some final destination. This is one of the pains of aspiring to become something: the stage of development we are  in is always seen against the imagined landscape of what we are striving for. So where we are—though closer all the time—is never quite enough.

The simple rose, at each moment of its slow blossoming, is as open as it can be. The same is true of our lives. In each stage of our unfolding, we are as stretched as possible. For the human heart is quite slow to blossom, and is only seen as lacking when compared to the imagined lover or father or mother we’d like to become.

It helps to see ourselves as flowers. If a flower were to push itself to open faster, which it can’t, it would tear. Yet we humans can and often do push ourselves. Often we tear in places no one can see. When we push ourselves to unfold faster or more deeply than is natural, we thwart ourselves. For nature takes time, and most of our problems of will stem from impatience.

Before my experience with cancer, I was sorely driven as an artist. I pushed myself greatly. I think the creative impulse was deep and irrepressible in me, and ultimately healthy, but it was my secret need to achieve some sort of greatness that made me press until something began to rip. It was the unending, relentless push to measure up—and quickly—against some imagined form of myself that made the flower of my mind tear.

I do not believe that people bring cancer on themselves, but I do believe that wherever we weaken ourselves, that part will give way to illness first. It was not by accident that the cancer struck the creative side of my brain.

Perhaps one of the hardest remedies to accept for our pain of becoming is that wherever we are in our path—no matter how flawed or incomplete—is a blossoming unto itself. However much we’ve done at the end of the day is more than enough; it is dream becoming truth.


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