Passing Beauty

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Theresa scattered California poppy seeds in our front yard a few years ago. They came and went the following spring, a lovely and passing beauty mark on our property, or so it seemed.

Once they “bloom out,” poppies send up a seed pod that eventually breaks open, the seeds carried away on the breeze. For a couple of years, they were left to do their own thing. And they did.

That magical combination of natural forces has led to an annual poppy takeover, made all the more robust this year by a winter of consistent, drenching rain showers. We had our very own “super bloom.”

This afternoon I spent a couple of hours ripping poppies out of the ground. You see, lovely as they are, their carrot-like root system is a a favorite treat of our local and energetic gopher population. Hidden beneath those lovely orange blooms are mounds of evidence of a subterranean community hard at work.

I like the poppies and they’ve had a good run. But I truly hate those gophers and their feeding frenzy is now at an end.

In the middle of my efforts a neighbor passed by and noticed me removing the poppies. He said, “I was just thinking about scattering some seeds like you did.”

“Oh, you should,” I said. “But just know that the gophers love to eat them once they mature.” He winced a little, and said he might reconsider.

I hope he doesn’t, they really are lovely. But as with anything else worth cultivating, there is always an expiration date, a reality about which we are to be thoughtfully and cautiously aware.

When the gophers come, and they always do, they helpfully tell us that it’s time to move on, time to let the old season pass so that the new one may come.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

Right now, under your feet

Under the winter sun, beneath the cold, hardened ground, spring is already hard at work, getting ready, ready, ready to grow.

It is our responsibility to stay present to the lessons and possibilities of the current season while also preparing for the one that is to come.

“Winter” officially began just one week ago and reminds us to come back to ourselves, to conserve, to evaluate. It is an active rest, not a stagnant one.

The roots of the trees are busily storing water and nutrients for what’s to come. If not, there is no spring.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.

What falls away

 

Here in Southern California you’d be forgiven for missing the memo that fall is here. In this monochromatic land of perpetual summer, the natural world provides only subtle indications. We are helped along in our perceptual understanding by the roadside pumpkin stands and the oddly sporadic harvest and (premature!) Halloween decorations.

Nonetheless, I’ve had a few moments of simplification recently that are either coincidental to the season or representative of a subconscious biological attunement to its central theme: what falls away makes room for the new.

The first came a few weeks ago when I realized my email subscriptions had superseded my ability to keep up with them. I started hitting “unsubscribe” with relish. A few minutes of pruning brought my attention to what I care about most. And, practically, it is saving me time each day by allowing me to be fed, rather than stuffed, by my choices.

I also led an incursion into my closet and dresser, discarding items now rarely worn. All of a sudden a handful of lonely hangers as well as a sock drawer organized so that I can see, well, my socks. That was a particularly gratifying harvest.

These simple, concrete actions feel like practice for more substantive opportunities. They remind me to consider the clutter in my own heart and mind and how it might fall away to make room for something new.

Forgiveness not yet given?
Opinions too strongly held?
Perceptions frozen in time?
Assumptions too easily made?
Vulnerability not yet expressed?
Habits ready to be broken?

There’s more than enough to work with. More than enough to consider as I move deeper into a season whose demands are the required down-payment on all future growth.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.

It Goes On

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

– Robert Frost –


I can get to feeling pretty self-important. When I forget to hold them lightly, my plans,  goals and priorities begin to serve as justification for impatience and arrogance.

My work matters to me. I care an awful lot about what I do. And that care is not much of an excuse for a lack of perspective. Humility is the aspiration. Holding lightly does not mean careless or cavalier. It means that I can hold on to multiple truths at once: that what I do is meaningful and worthy of my best efforts AND that everything I am and everything I do is done within the cyclical truth of seasonality.

Today is a season. My job is to relish it as it is while I actively anticipate the surety of its decline; its transition into the next…and the next…and the next.

Life does go on. True freedom lies in the embrace of that simple truth.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

– Robert Frost, 1923


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.

The Rhythm

I really appreciate it when friends share great stuff with me. Since this one is pretty great, I’m sharing it with you, too. 

The Rhythm

In any creative feat

(by which I mean your work, your art, your life)

There will be downtimes.

 

Or so it seems.

Just as the earth is busy before the harvest

And a baby grows before its birth,

There is no silence in you.

There is no time of nothingness.

 

What if,

During the quiet times,

When the idea flow is hushed and hard to find

You trusted (and yes, I mean trusted)

That the well was filling, the waters moving?

 

What if you trusted

That for the rest of eternity,

Without prodding, without self-discipline,

Without getting over being yourself,

You would be gifted every ounce of productivity you need?

What would leave you? What would open?

 

And what if during the quiet times you ate great meals

And leaned back to smile at the stars,

And saw them there, as they always are,

Nourishing you?

 

There are seasons

And harvest is only a fraction of one of them.

 

There is a rhythm that made everything.

The next time you stand in the kitchen, leaning,

The next time a moment of silence catches you there,

Hear it, that rhythm, and let it place a stone in your spine.

Let it bring you some place beautiful.

– Tara Sophia Mohr –

 


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.