March 12, 2016

How to Grow an Idea from a Seed: You Bury it in Sh*t.



Warning: A few swear words were required for this piece to have full impact!


Dear Genius,

If we love a seed, we drive it into the ground. Then we heap a bunch of shit on top of it, step on it and leave it alone in the dark. True story! The careful gardener will even pay money for bags of cow and sheep dung out of love for their seeds.

So if you feel like you are in deep shit, congratulations!

Under the earth, cold and isolated, confined by walls of unforgiving soil, the seed feels pressure from the outside. Meanwhile, the growing germ within creates pressure from the inside as the seed aches to become more. The gardener pours their energy and attention onto the seed believing that, one day, it will stand proud and strong, bearing fruit to nourish all.

Now here is an interesting point.

When we have a great idea, something we want to create—whether it is a personal goal, a professional goal, a spiritual goal or any other kind of dream—we may feel alone with our embryonic brilliance in the beginning.

Many people will see us standing in the middle of what looks like a desert, pouring our water onto the barren earth with glee. They’ll skirt around us to avoid conversation and, as they walk away, they may mutter to each other, “Wow. Ol’ Johnny there has finally cracked!”

And you know what? With any luck, it’s true. Because under the soil, where no one sees it, the seed will finally break under all the pressure. In fact, a seed must shatter completely in order to become what it is destined to be. No one likes the feeling of being shattered, but it is the only way for the new life to get out. I like to tell my students, “Enjoy your heartbreak, baby. It doesn’t happen every day.”

Letting go of the familiar shores to strike out on the creative journey is crazy to those that have traded their freedom for the illusion of security. Well, we might look like nuts to everyone else, but to me it’s a sign of genius. I know what happens to a nut that stands its ground—just ask the next oak tree you see if your big idea could ever amount to anything. Every single one of them started out as a little kernel with a big idea inside.

We will be tested. Again and again.

It may feel like we’re being punished as we try with all our might to bring this precious new dream into being. But just like heaping shit on a seed is loving to the seed, batting the sapling around is loving to the sapling. Everything that comes along to try to yank us out of our resolve is just there to help us root down into what we believe.

It’s going to take longer than we think. Waaaaaaay longer. We’ll start to wonder will the part where we are tiny, invisible and fragile ever be over? The truth is, in the end, we are capable of far more than we currently know. If we keep going, keep growing, keep sewing our seeds of conviction there will come a day where we are looking back in utter amazement of the miracle of our own life.

A creative life is a life of risk—a life of standing on the front lines of human ingenuity and walking bravely into the unknown, cutting a path up the side of the mountain that other curious feet will one day tread. But it might be worth it, just to feel the sun on our leaves, the wind caressing our tender branches, to feel our limbs laden with our precious harvest and to see others around us being nourished by the loving care we put into our one, crazy little seed.

Go for it baby. You may be nuts now but, with any luck, you’ll become a total fruit someday.

Author: Gina Williams

Editor: Sarah Kolkka

Image: BenjaminCombs/Unsplash

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