I’ve just finished reading CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese. This single sentence, “The tragedy of death had to do entirely with what was left unfulfilled.” His whole book weaves around the irony of the cost of an unrealized dream AND the cost of holding a dream too long and then realizing it. A dream realized, out of season, is as harmful, or more harmful, than a dream never fulfilled.
My thoughts immediately go to the seeds that are currently soaking in water in our kitchen.
Late last autumn as the last stalwart flowers were holding close to the waning heat of the shortened evenings,
I told my David how much I loved sweet peas as a child. How sweet peas, regardless of how long I’d been lined out
in the back yard, tied to the same empty clothesline by a long rope as my best friend and four-legged sibling, Pete,
always cheered me. It was a happy tale and positive statement from me but I saw the sorrow of it reflected in his eyes.
The day before yesterday, knowing my recent penchant for soaking various seeds to get them to sprout for their nutritional value, my husband warned me not to eat these seeds.
“What are they?”
He smiled. He told me that early last winter he went on a sweet pea seed harvesting journey on this little island of ours. He carefully dried what he had harvested and then stored them away. It’s a good thing I did not encounter them on one of my “banish all unrecongnizable items” dances around our house. I would not have seen their dormant promise. Only their itsy bitsy dusty, inclined to fall all over the floor appearance. Too often we see things for their current state not the promise of their natural core.
Imagine those hopeful Europeans who visited Chicago at the pinnacle of her windy winter. What would they have thought of the stories they’d heard of lush lakeside living then?
And so my thoughts, heavy laden with the whole notion of friendship (on the cusp of my book on friendship, US, coming to your hands) and dreams, turn to seeds in my kitchen. Where they are getting a jump start for the unlikely journey ahead of them. What cartoonist could have imagined with her hands that from these itsy seeds would come laughing color, dancing form and a flower that has inspired thousands of loved ones to address their partner as “sweet pea?” And what romantic novelist would have thought to translate one simple childhood confession turned into such a measurable act of love?
So as stalled friendships and faltering dreams go – I take the lesson of the seed. One must have the patience to understand that what appears now is only a portion of the story. The gardener that tries to force a seed to perform its miracle is rewarded with a broken seed. The gardener that understands that all have things have cycles. All things wither and appear to die…only to stagger our sights later by a riotous explosion of color. The trick lies in understanding that,
“There is no death, only change.
This is no loss, only difficult gifts. mar”
“The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another,: the sea engulfs us and the light goes out. James Baldwin”
From the movie TOMBSTONE,
Hired guns out to protect Wyatt Earp to a dying Doc Holladay, “What’re you doin’ here, Doc?”
“Wyatt’s my friend,” he explains.
They said, “Heck, we got lotsa friends.”
Doc pauses. And piercingly assesses,”I don’t.”
“The whole of life lies in the verb to see. Teilhard de Chardin”
“There are three classes of people. Those who see; those who see when they are shown; those who do not see. Leonardo Da Vinci”