Every spring, here on the Kansas prairie, we burn our grassland. It is the one time of year when seeing smoke rising from the hills and its pungent odor doesn’t cause alarm.
We trust that whomever is burning has everything under control and recognize this as a long-historied ritual of keeping the Tallgrass Prairie viable, healthy and sustainably rejuvenating. It’s part of the natural ecosystem of the prairie. The fire helps prevent the invasion of woody vegetation and promotes new growth of the native grasses. It sounds destructive and somewhat counter intuitive to burn the prairie so that it will grow more healthy, but within days of the burning the hills begin to green and big bluestem, little bluestem, Indian and switch grasses send up shoots of new growth.
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the grasses green and begin to grow from the charred pastures. It feels like some kind of miracle, but to me, most of nature is a miracle. For instance, every spring I plant a garden and marvel that the tiny seeds know what to do once I place them in the soil and give them some water. I plant a tomato seed and I don’t fret about what kind of plant will grow, nor do I expect a potato plant to break through the soil. I know when I plant that tomato seed, if tended well, a tomato plant will grow. There is an inner wisdom in that seed that knows its purpose and what it is designed to do and it does it with little more than some water and sunshine.
Oh, if only it were that easy for us to determine our path, our purpose. But, maybe it is. Maybe, like that seed or those native grasses that have come through the fire to become verdant and robust again, we too carry our purpose inside of us — although that’s often the last place we might think to look for it.
We more often look to other people for some outside direction for what our path is here, for what our purpose is and for the gifts we have come to share. We take classes, read books, attend workshops and join groups. We may even blog about it and ask others if they’ve seen our purpose or know of what it is we are to be doing here. There is nothing wrong with any of this, but what if the answer to the question is already inside of us? What if our seed has been within us all the time and every time we asked or wondered, “What am I here for?”, it was doing everything in its power to answer, to show us, to get our attention so we might move in the direction in which it is intending to point us?
So how might we find that direction? That tomato seed doesn’t dream of being a squash. It’s a tomato seed. Its dream is to grow into a healthy plant and to bear tomatoes. What are your dreams? What, especially as a child, did you dream of doing? Did you want to train horses? Fly a plane? Build highrises? Dance? Did you find joy in keeping your room tidy and neat? Did you lose yourself in thoughts of running a big business or writing books? Did you want to paint, travel, cook, build, design, do – whatever – then maybe that is what you still carry inside of you. Maybe that’s your inner wisdom, your map.
If it has been awhile since you allowed yourself to dream, maybe like we do with the prairie grasses, it’s time to burn through the idea that you’re too old, too poor, too much invested in doing something else to still dream. Burn those dead dormant ideas that it is too soon or too late for you to follow your dreams.
You owe it to yourself to find the inner wisdom that will tell you what you are here to do, but you also owe it to the rest of us to do that. If you don’t plant, tend and grow your seed, you rob us all of the fruit you might bear. We have no idea of how our dreams affect, inspire, speak or bump into others. We don’t even realize how many people we may have already touched, moved, or motivated.
What if your seed was to become a sculptor and you took a leap of faith and, despite people telling you artists never make a good living, you sculpted? And what if one day a middle aged man looked at a sculpture you had created, clearly realizing you were fulfilling your dream of being an artist, and decided he too wanted to follow his dream – of becoming a public speaker. And in the audience at one of his presentations was a young woman who was studying accounting because she came from a long line of accountants, but it was not her passion. Her dream was to study medicine and after hearing the speaker she was motivated to change her major and become a pediatrician. She eventually helped a young patient successfully move through a serious illness, which inspired him to follow his dream of going into the field of research, oncology research to be specific, and that young boy grew up to cure cancer.
If you had never followed your inner wisdom to sculpt, despite what others said, or whatever doubts you may have had when you took your first steps in that direction, that young boy may have never been moved to follow his dream either, and we all would suffer as a consequence.
So, figure out what burns inside of you, what brings passion to your life, what seed do you need to nurture to feel happy, fulfilled and a sense of wonder, and then start taking steps in that direction. Whatever steps present themselves, and they will present themselves, however you can begin to move in the direction of your dreams, move.
We are all once-in-a-lifetime experiences. No two of us are exactly alike and in all of time there will never be another like any one of us. That is by design. We are individual masterpieces created to each give what is unique about us to the world. The world needs every one of us because we each contribute something special; we each possess a seed that is ours alone to grow.
But sometimes, like the prairie grasses, we must walk through fire to learn to grow again. Sometimes we need to be challenged, to fall and learn we can get back up. There are trials, there are misfortunes in life, but we can use it all like the fires on the prairie as a way to grow, to stretch, to reach and to find that seed and its inner wisdom that is trying to tell us, “This way. Move in this direction. Follow me. I will show you the way.” And when we do take those first, wobbly steps toward that dream, I believe the Universe rushes in to support us with connections, time, opportunities, whatever support we need in a quantity that is sufficient for us to grow our seed. Every step you take will lead to the next. You will be supported. But you must take that first step.
Spend some time being quiet, then ask what is in you to do, what dreams are still waiting for you to explore, follow and share. Journal, create vision boards, whatever you wish to do that will allow yourself time and space to not only remember your dreams from childhood, but to touch and then identify those dreams that are still within you.
Be the fire. Then be the prairie and come alive! Only you can do this, whatever it is that is yours to do. And the only way to not fan the flame of passion within you, the only way to not find and grow your particular seed, is to not take those first steps. The only failure is in not trying.