“Be the change that you want to see in the world.”
— Mahatma Ghandi

9 x 12 watercolor collage (click on image for larger view)

This painting’s background sat in my file cabinet for over a year, a cast aside experiment. I reworked it a little, adding bits of blue, and I nearly threw it away. But I have trouble throwing anything away. This summer I found a fallen avocado leaf I’d saved from a young tree. Its stem, when dried, curled into a spiral on its own. At first the actual leaf was part of the collage, but it proved too fragile, so I settled on a painted one. The abstract leaves were also scraps I’d painted, thought I’d never use for anything, and almost threw away.

I’m such a packrat, I’m not sure it’s good for me to get so much satisfaction from using my discards this way. Maybe it would be better not to encourage my hoarding. But I can’t argue with the sense of effervescence and growth this gives me personally. Some clutter is worth saving.

In this world, growth begins in shadow. Incubation, gestation, germination, all take place out of sight. We shelter and protect our young. As we grow, it’s a relief to duck back into familiar shadows now and then, or to at least be aware of them still behind us, to honor their place in our lives, the impetus they provided for growth, as well as a resting place at each stage of growth. Our shadows are part of our whole, they add perspective and depth to our existence. They’re a refuge when sunlight blazes too brightly and radiates summer’s heat. It’s easy to burn out under too constant, too bright a light. The cool, darker reaches sustain us and remind us that night time will come again, that winter will roll around. Everything lives and dies according to its cycle. In growth, that cycle is a trailing spiral, ever working it’s way both outward and inward, branching out, taking root, opening, closing, curling, unfurling, expanding, contracting. We come to know ourselves by incrementally opening, coming to know every self in existence, and recognizing our tiny niche in the greater whole, by seeing how the whole constantly shifts and changes, and by constantly shifting and changing ourselves as integral parts of that whole.

Fear resists change, holds it back, cutting some parts off from the whole until they wither and die. Love — loving unconditionally, embracing the whole in all its diverse elements and forms, both light and shadow — is the key to unlocking resistance and letting growth happen. Love is water dripping or condensing on leaves, trickling down stems or falling in drops to penetrate to roots. Love is water rising in vapor and mist, transpiring, evaporating to moisten other life. Love is movement, pushing its way up and out, toward the sun, stretching toward nutrients, nurturing the self, flowering, fruiting, and nourishing others, leaving seed behind to repeat the cycle.

2 comments on “Growth

  1. ate says:

    It may have sat in your cabinet for some long time, but I am happy you found it and “unearthed” it.

  2. Marion says:

    Very interesting, Barbara, every time I visit you have me thinking for days!

    I’m glad you kept the painting.