The Great Round of Life

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” (Anais Nin, quoted in

This was a stunning line by Anais Nin. And, though I have not read much of her work, I have read enough to know she was full of “stunning” lines. And I also know she battled her demons throughout her life; it is only as we “battle our demons” that wisdom comes to us.

Remaining in a “bud” is to not live. For the blossoming to occur, the “bud” has to break apart and even disintegrate so that “purpose” might be achieved. This is the wisdom that Jesus had in mind when he reminded us that unless a grain of corn fall into the earth and die, it could not bring forth life. And this is the meaning of the Crucifixion. Ranier Rilke approached the same life-out-of-death theme with these words, “Daily he takes himself off and steps into the changing constellation of his own everlasting risk.” (Duino Elegies)

Shakespeare also knew this essential truth of life, using the “bud” image himself in his first sonnet. In this lovely sonnet The Bard described a young man who balked at commitment to marriage, holding onto his heart’s “bud” and being unwilling to participate in the Great Round:

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And, tender churl, mak’st waste in niggarding:
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.


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