There’s something I really like about seeing a flower lean towards the sun. It seems to instinctively know which way to grow in order to get what it needs, doesn’t it? Some plants will even appear to get horizontal just to feel those rays, contorting themselves around fences, and under rocks – it seems by any means necessary.
What many people don’t know though, is that this phenomenon, positive phototropism, happens because of all the good things happening on the side that isn’t exposed to the light. The dark side. That’s where all the good stuff occurs. The shaded side naturally grows at a faster rate and those cells that have grown longer than the others, push themselves out of the dark and into the light, so that the plant appears to lean.
When I saw my zinnia the other day, it made me think of my own version of leaning in, of how we humans do phototropism. Quite different from Sheryl Sandberg’s version, but important nonetheless.
What I realized is often we don’t honor what happens in the dark corners. The parts of us that take root and do their best to push us in the right direction. That work is often subtle, and if we are over-watered, overwrought, undernourished, or overfed, sometimes we don’t notice it. Sometimes we ignore it. Sometimes, we listen to others, because their voices may be louder than our own, because we have forgotten how to trust in ourselves.
If that happens, sometimes, like with some of my zinnias, all you get is rot.
But, when we acknowledge that work, the parts of us that change when things aren’t easy, the tugs of our intuition…
when the soil is the right mix,
when we are not thirsty for attention or anything else, but can sit quietly in the shade and be still,
when we are able to focus on doing what comes naturally to us, what we are meant to do…
Towards the light — our leaves grown, our petals soft, but strong — expanding into our own imperfection.