“The [frozen] pond began to boom about an hour after sunrise, when it felt the influence of the sun’s rays slanted upon it from over the hills; it stretched itself and yawned like a waking man with a gradually increasing tumult, which was kept up three or four hours.”
- Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau, the great American philosopher, spent two years of his life living in solitude near Walden Pond in Massachusetts. During that time, Thoreau built his own house, grew his own food, and was for the most part self-reliant. He had very little contact with the outside world and so he spent most of his time observing the wild life that surrounded Walden Pond. While living there, Thoreau was able to record his observations in his now famous non-fiction book, Walden Pond.
What is amazing about Thoreau’s work is that it reveals to us just how much nature can teach us about life.
For instance: Thoreau observed that in the Spring time, Walden Pond, now frozen due to the long winter, began to break under the heat of the Spring sun. This breaking was gradual and deliberate, but it was also loud and frightening. Thoreau noted that when the pond would break during the day, it would sound like a thunder-clap, or like a gun going off.
Like most of his observations, Thoreau chooses to show us his thoughts rather than tell us exactly what he’s thinking. Even so, we can gather from his elaborate description of the thawing of Walden Pond that Thoreau isn’t just describing the pond; he’s describing his own awakening. He is speaking about the moment in life when you feel as if you are a new individual emerging from your old shell. That moment that can only be described as a type of “morning” period in your life in which a greater spiritual clarity is finally achieved.
Breaking Before You Bloom
It is clear to me that in the transition from Winter to Spring, nature must shatter.
Since we, ourselves, are a part of nature, our own transition from life’s Winter to life’s Spring must begin with a type of shattering as well.
We must break.
We must yawn and stretch. Our insides must be torn asunder. Our minds must pop. Our intestines must squeeze. Our eyes must bulge.
Although our breaking will be gradual and deliberate, it may appear frightening and upsetting to those around us, but rest assured: this is only a precursor to the birth of a new you.
The change within us may sound like a thunder-clap to others, but they shouldn’t worry: we are only thawing the cold, icy interiors we carried with us all throughout the Winter of our lives. Those frozen blocks of ice are now becoming a thing of the past.
This is a wonderful thing, yes, but losing all that icy mass so quickly (and all at once) can still be painful.
Before our new selves can bloom, we must explode, we must break, we must shatter, we must thaw…
Every new birth must begin with a cry of pain. Every healed heart must begin with the prick of the needle carrying the healing thread. Every rise must be preceded by a sudden, sharp fall. Every recovery must be christened by a brief relapse.
The first step down a new path must, evidently, cut away at the old path—and that cutting hurts. It takes a lot out of us, and we are exhausted.
What can comfort us at this point of our journey is knowing that this is all normal: nature goes through a similar process in the beginning of Spring.
Everything in nature breaks before it blooms. The frozen pond shatters before it can flow freely again. The bud of a rose cracks before it opens. The sun stabs at the moon right before it rises.
So it is with nature, so it is with you.
Every new chapter in your life must begin with a break between two pages. A blank space with no words, no sentences, no paragraphs, no development in your story—just a long break that interrupts all action in an intrusive and almost jarring manner.
This break is wide and it is long and, yes, as your eyes float across this break, you may be filled with worry and anxiety as to what will happen next.
But do not worry.
In the Spring of your life, when things begin to break, it does not spell doom. It just means that a new you is about to bloom.