An annual sow thistle “volunteered” to grow in one of my pots and I let it. I nurtured the pseudo-dandelion and it was thriving for a while. The bright yellow flowers blossomed in abundance. Green leaves unfurled and stretched toward the sun. And then the plant started to die, for whatever reason. I’ve deadheaded the blossoms, removed the brown leaves, and continued to water it according to the guidance of my plant app. But the plant is still dying.
Some people would say, “It’s a weed. Why even bother? Just let it die,” but I have trouble with that. As I’ve written about before, it’s hard for me to let things go. Here’s a perfect example. For years, plural, I conducted a group meditation where oftentimes I was the only attendee. I made a salad, packed up plates and utensils, and walked 20 minutes up a hill to a yoga studio hoping someone else would show up. Sometimes they did but many times they didn’t. On the times they didn’t, instead of turning around and heading home, I continued singing, chanting, and meditating as usual.
I kept trying new things, new ways of encouragement, new schedules, and even launching a Meetup group, but they all failed. Whereas some people have the story, “I meditated alone for six months, and then people started turning up,” my story is, “I meditated alone for three years, and then Covid happened and I tried meditating in the park and online with local people before giving up and doing that with people who live far away instead.”
In other words, even the first year of the pandemic didn’t deter me and frankly, it was only the allure of meditating with 20 people, albeit online, that was appealing enough that I was willing to give up trying to make a local group meditation happen. One of my life’s lessons isn’t perseverance, it’s knowing when to quit.
These days, I’m learning to quit old ways of thinking and being. The ground beneath me feels shaky as if I’m walking on the beach and the sand is shifting beneath my feet. I don’t know what the heck is going on and I’d like to go back to the way things were. I want to keep watering my metaphorical sow thistle and revive it but the message I’m getting is, “Let it die.”
Leaving behind the familiar is extremely difficult, especially when it used to work. A part of me says, “Wait, I don’t understand! It was working! Why can’t it work again??” but just like with the sow thistle, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you do everything right, you haven’t changed your behavior at all, but the circumstances have. The outside world is different and that means you have to change too.
My spiritual teacher says, “Here in the universe, nothing is stationary, nothing is fixed. Everything moves; that’s why this universe is called jagat. Movement is its dharma; movement is its innate characteristic.”
I wish the universe didn’t keep moving, but it does, and that means I have to move with it. That means I have to let things die even when I really, really don’t want to.
I dream of a world where we understand nothing is static, stationary, or stale. A world where we understand this universe of ours is constantly moving and that means we must move too. A world where we recognize as painful as it may be, it’s important for us to let things die.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.