Seeds come in various sizes, from the dust of foxgloves and grit of brassicas to the desiccated sponges of beetroot. All are shells containing new life. Some need to be frozen for a kick start, some drowned in a saucer of water overnight, some cooked over a radiator, but they have this in common: they must be shattered. Three times in the past few days, I’ve been reminded by the wise that stress is the trigger for growth.
First, standing with a friend in the Ashmolean looking at a hand axe 300,000 years old, I voiced my rather clever, I thought, objection to evolution theory with the question, ‘How come one species grows out of another, but the original one remains? In other words, how come there are still chimps?’ She looked at me witheringly, as well she might. ‘The chimps were in a comfortable place.’ I fell backwards through time like Alice and got a glimpse of hungry hominids, cold and thirsty. Time to move, to migrate, or to change.
Second, a YouTube clip I came across on Facebook. Anyone with a beard like that has to be wise, so I listened…
[Unfortunately I am not evolved enough to embed a vid and get it to play when it doesn’t want to. Here’s the link: Responding to Stress. And if that doesn’t work, as it doesn’t for me, go to YouTube and search Rabbi Dr Abraham Twerski, Responding to Stress.]
Third, in my current favourite reading, Florida Scott-Maxwell’s Measure of my Days, this development of the thought:
Evolution is necessarily slow since we resent it so. A large proportion of our energy is used in holding it back, wanting to stop it if possible. The new good is refused countless times before it is accepted. The rare, the beautiful, the admirable are taken as rebukes, making us feel inferior, suggesting our improvement. Anything but that, so we mock at the new, recoil from the rare belittle the great, until finally grown accustomed … to ignore is easy.
And then a glimpse not of the distant past, but of now and how it is as I biff my husband to try something new, such as podcasts on his Kindle Fire.