So, apologies if you’ve already seen this picture. But I wanted to post it here also, partly because I love it and think it’s really beautiful, and also, mostly, because I love the title that presented itself, along with its stirring and thought-provoking implications for life.
Everything unfolds. Life unfolds. Moments, hours, and days unfold. Seasons unfold, as does weather. A wave in the ocean unfolds. A piece of writing, a work of art, unfold. The universe is unfolding, as are we, individually, collectively, as a species. Journeys, paths, directions, unfold, like maps, revealing the way as they do.
I was struck by many things as I stared at this photo. How simply perfect the flower is. How beautifully it unfolds. The gentle sweetness of its petals, how they curl so gracefully, over time, away from the middle. The way the center is protected, merely a suggestion, a potential, an idea; a mystery until it is revealed. Yet it exists, in its fullness, from the very beginning. Or does it? Do we know if it lies there, perfectly formed, waiting? Or, is it altered, created by the very process of unfolding? And the center itself, the grand finale, once exposed, not only a marvel to look at, but a miracle in itself, lush, nurturing, life-giving and sustaining.
In psychotherapy, the metaphor of an onion is often used to describe how in the process of therapy, layers and layers open and fall away, accessing deeper and deeper parts of our selves, our psyches, our most "true" beings. But right now, I am lovin' the idea of a rose so much more. For one thing, a rose smells oh so much better than an onion (not that it doesn't stink, sometimes to high heaven, lying on the couch, those layers being pried reluctantly off...). Unlike an onion, if a rose makes me cry, it's from the sheer beauty of it, not the overwhelming sting invading my eyes, nose, mouth, sinuses. I like that as a rose unfolds, it stays intact, whole, as it peels itself away, there to hold, witness, help contain, continue as part of the beauty and process.
I "blame" all my current troubles on the dolphins. (Pardon the lack of segue, but don't worry, we'll come back around...) Tongue-seriously-in-cheek, of course (about the dolphins, not coming full circle.) Five years ago, when I challenged just about every fear I had, and traveled by myself across the country, over to the tiny little Bahaman island of Bimini, to live for a week on a very small boat with nine perfect strangers (and swim with dolphins :) , I likened the process then to stepping outside of a box. A very small box that I had kept myself folded neatly inside of, a severely cramped space, where because of fear, conventions, ignorance, fear, ideas of right and wrong and survival, fear, needing to be good, accommodating, selfless (though try as I might, I always failed pretty miserably at this last one), and where I'd stayed most all my life (except a few semi-rowdy teen years), without even knowing it.
The experience changed the entire trajectory of my life. Though I had "worked on myself" for years, it was the first really major step in beginning the process of unfolding in a whole new and very radical way, and the movement, the changing, the stretching continued and continues, many steps along the way, separating from a marriage that I could no longer fit myself into, the biggest, hardest, most painful to date. And I guess it makes perfect sense that having lived so twisted up, so "cramped," there would be pain and struggles and discomfort and uncertainties and imbalance and undeveloped muscles, all that take time, use, movement to grow, develop, become accustomed, made stronger.
I love looking at this rose, and revisioning the journey and process of unfolding as something beautiful and perfect and graceful and right; somehow, in some big picture, and in ways that I'm blinded to. I love that no part is actually cast aside or cut away, that it merely curves itself out of the way, one row, one lovely petal at a time, to make way for the next and then the next and then the next, to reveal, in right timing, the center and core and purpose. And it doesn't stop there, but continues on, the big, full circle and cycle of life. One petal, one bud, one blossom, one millimeter, one gigantic or small or minuscule step at a time.