Today while hiking crosscountry in the foothills, I came across a frostburned Pasqueflower. The fuzzy stems, sepals and petal tips were reddish brown in color, the result of a freeze that was part of a cold snap we had last week. This is actually the earliest I've ever seen the Pasqueflowers bloom; usually, they don't begin for another week or ten days. In any case, this particular flower is a real pioneer. We might even say that it is AHEAD of its time.
This consideration got me to to thinking about societal pioneers and innovators - those who are called to bring to birth something new, whether it be a scientific instrument, a unique music style, or a new philosophy, theology or political system. Like forerunner plants, society's pioneers are DESTINED to feel the burn of societal criticism, skepticism and disbelief. Rather than eliciting surprise, this kind of reaction should actually be regarded as a foregone conclusion. How else would society react to something that is new, unfamiliar and challenging to its entrenched ways of doing things? It's almost as though innovators have to undergo a "trial by fire" in order to have their patience, drive and perseverance purified.
This parallel also led me to a reflection on the fact that pioneers and forerunners in any field are often difficult to live with. Because they have to develop an attitude that is more than able to deal with setbacks, skeptics and naysayers, they must erect strong boundaries. In other words, they need a strong ego. Such stubbornness and cocksureness are, it turns out, absolutely indispensible if an innovator is to PUSH THROUGH the resistance of both the world and others en route to carrying out his or her fresh, unrutted vision.
May all of us learn to cultivate this kind of courage, drive and inner strength and so be empowered to offer our one-of-a-kind vision and creativity to a world that desperately needs it.
Photo: Frostburned Pasqueflower, Lory State Park, CO, March 9, 2016
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.