"Does it hurt the flower to bloom?" my son asked, looking at an orchid bud in our living room.
This was the plant's second life cycle with us, so he knew what to expect. That small green bud would soon unfold and open, as if suddenly waking up. And it would be beautiful and delicate and temporary.
His question struck me, though. Does it hurt the flower to bloom?
I guess I could have given him a scientific answer, something about the nervous system and plant life, but...honestly...what do I know? If a plant's life is anything like our life....
I've had a hell of a few years, man. There've been bright spots, of course, but a lot of pain. A lot of sadness and acceptance and sacrifice. I've grown...I'm still continuing to grow...but so much of that growth has been a direct result of hard, painful moments.
I'm still learning to pay attention to the pain, accept the pain, and learn from it. I always assumed pain was BAD (avoid, avoid, avoid), not realizing how necessary it can be.
Sometimes pain teaches us lessons we need to learn. It raises red flags to issues that we need to address, or calls out a signal for help in a certain area of our lives.
Pain can put life into perspective. It can make us say, "Okay, this shit feels terrible. What do I need to do, to get rid of, to change about my life in order to feel better? What do I need to accept? To let go of? How can I stop this pain?"
But we have to pay attention to the pain.
If we're constantly masking, avoiding, denying, then we can't listen to what it's trying to tell us. Pain is natural and, at times, necessary.
That being said, sometimes pain is something to simply live through, to experience. Pain can test and strengthen us. (I never understood why labor — something so natural and primal — could possibly be so painful. Wouldn't we have evolved in a way to avoid the pain, I wondered at 22 years old. Now, at 28, I understand and accept its place.)
Growth can inherently be painful, or at least have painful aspects...
Being vulnerable and introspective is painful.
Making hard choices and drastically changing our lives is painful.
Carrying built-up emotions and unhealthy habits is painful (and heavy).
Letting go of past identities, letting go of people, letting go of worn-out dreams that don't fit into our lives anymore — painful.
Accepting life as it is — in all of its uncontrollable life turns and uncontrollable situations, without resistance or denial — is PAINFUL.
Sometimes we just have to say, "This is hard. But I'll choose to live through it and pay attention until it passes."
Pain is part of the process. For all of us.
And we can handle it.
Bloom where you're planted.
Accept your soil, find the right lighting, nourish yourself as best you can.
No matter where you were planted — in a crappy childhood home that programmed you with unhealthy mind-patterns...in disadvantaged situations with a heavy-handed dose of obstacles...in unideal settings and a chaotic environment.
No matter what people tell you about yourself, or what YOU tell you about yourself, or what society in general assumes...BLOOM.
Bloom through the pain and change.
Bloom exactly where you are.
"Does it hurt the flower to bloom?"
Maybe. But the flower will be okay. In fact, it will be beautiful.
"Yes, it will."
Yes. It will.