I just finished reading one of my favorite books, LAB GIRL, by Hope Jahren. She grew up in Austin, Minnesota and has become a scientist. Her main focus of research is trees.
And she is filled with metaphors about trees and light.
“People are like plants: they grow toward the light.” Such a lovely metaphor, I think, for our desire as humans to understand ourselves, others, the meaning and source of life.
I think it is one of the reasons people come to therapy. Something along the way in life has brought clouds of doubt, depression, anxiety, any number of life situations that can obscure the path, can obstruct what one felt like the direction one’s life was taking.
Hope Jahren studies these little seeds that fall from trees in the hope that it is the one in literally a million that will have a chance to grow into a tree. She takes seeds into her lab and cracks them open to give them an extra chance to grow. She writes, “I must have cracked thousands of seeds over the years, and yet the next day’s green never fails to amaze me. Something so hard can be so easy if you just have a little help. In the right place, under the right conditions, you can finally stretch out into what you’re supposed to be.”
Now, isn’t that the most lovely description of what therapy can be, to allow oneself to be cracked open, permitting the green growth of life to emerge?
The fear of exposing one’s innermost thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and perhaps secret behaviors is a very real experience. But not to take the courage of opening up can prevent new life from taking root.
“Each beginning is the end of waiting. We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable,” she writes.
We all wait, often not knowing for what we are waiting. Giving words to our hopes, fears, and dreams is critical. It brings light into often dark places.
Jahren’s own life was filled with struggle, difficulties, and triumphs, as all of our lives are. I also like what she said when she wrote, “Carefully writing everything down is the only real defense we have against forgetting something important that once was and is no more.”
Each person has a unique, rich story. Jahren’s is a delight to read. May we all find our lives a book we want to read.