I was in the jungles of Costa Rica one year, 2004 if I recall correctly. We were on an adventure tour out exploring the world. As we were hiking into a canopy zip line I spotted a tree that looked very unusual. Its trunk was tall and straight much like a palm tree, not so unusual at all. Its base however was the unique part of the tree that caught my eye.
The roots of the tree were mostly above ground and wrapped around the base of the tree. It looked a little like an umbrella blown inside out by the wind. The roots on one side of the tree were healthy, strong and alive. The roots on the other side were rotting and falling to the ground. The strong forward reaching roots were in fact pulling the tree forward into an environment of better soil and light as the roots in the back were dying and letting go. The ‘walking palm’ can actually move itself to where the growing environment is better for it.
So in order to be a healthy ‘walking palm’ some of the tree needed to die as it grew into a healthier tree in a healthier environment. Mother Nature is teaching us an important lesson from the jungles in Costa Rica.
In order for me as a healthy individual to continue to grow I need to let something of me no longer necessary for my next steps forward to die, to fall away. In my career I may need to let go of what I was once called, say an assistant manager, in order to grow fully into the role of manager. In my relationship with my wife I may need to let go of an old way of relating in order to embrace a new and more intimate way of being together. I may need to witness parts of my personality die in order for me to be even more authentic.
These changes, these transitions are all examples of the cycle of life. Something is germinated, planted, and born. It grows into something that serves a purpose for a while and then it naturally dies. A plant has this life cycle and before it dies in the fall it usually goes to seed preparing the way for the next growth cycle.
We humans tend to forget we too are part of this cycle of life. The baby dies to the birth of a child, this child dies into the teenager who then dies into the adult, who dies into the elder. Unhealthy habits like excessive cigarette smoking die to healthier habits of not smoking. Everything seems to die and be reborn even me!
I have been going through my own personal deaths in order for me to be born into the next ‘new me’. I have had to let the workshop facilitator ‘me’ die. I have had to let the money I made die, the travelling I did die. My goodness piece by piece I am dying into nothing knowing full well a new ‘me’ will be reborn and yet I have no idea what life has waiting for me. I have had to let my knowing die too! It has been a journey into the very core of who I am letting go of any and all ways I have identified myself. I understand the Phoenix rising out of the ashes.
This is a wonderful way to look at ourselves, to embrace death and rebirth on a regular basis. It is a powerful way to honor these mini-deaths as a necessary part of our life and our growth. We could return more fully to the celebration of life’s births and deaths; solstice gatherings, days beginning and ending, week ends and week beginnings, by marking them with celebrations either privately of publicly. This was the purpose of ceremony and ritual in days gone by. We were acknowledging the death or completion of a cycle and the renewal or birth of a different cycle. We were noticing the impermanence of life and honoring of temporary nature of our own existence.
In falling out of the ‘habit’ of these rituals we have fallen out of touch with the natural flow of life and become accustomed to the digital! We have forgotten we are not in control.
Find simple ways to acknowledge the end of a day, the end of a week or month. Create celebrations that really do acknowledge the death of a season and the birth of the next time of year. Look for easy ways to say good-bye to things no longer necessary for your growth and happiness creating space for what is new and next to come.
Send me your ideas of celebrations you have put in place to honor the comings and goings in your life.