A Seed

A seed is a dormant knowing or an immotile polyp destined for nothing but a slow decay in the rutted soil. Not all seeds come to their fruition. Every seed bears a dream, but sometimes that dream is evanescent, promising a rich yield ripe with perfected knowledge, only to wisp away into the sunshine like a speck of dust gone forth to a higher power. As if it never were, to begin with.

Some seeds have no father or mother. They are older than all things that get born. I have felt this way sometimes with the seed growing in my womb. It is a seed that is more my mother than my yet to be begotten. It preceded me, and then it chose me to be its vessel, to hold its fallow oath of starlight and vastness within me like the most beautiful secret. Sometimes I think I am not myself, but rather, this seed.

What is the seed? It is a glimmer of truth in the pale twilight. It is more than a speculation, more than a “What if I did it this way? Then, would the world respond in kindness to me?” conjecture of magical thinking. It is a gnostic tide that overwhelms the senses suddenly and painfully. It bowls you over with the force of its desire to inhabit you. 

Two days ago, this seed rose in me. It didn’t pierce through the topsoil of my awareness but simply showed me a vision of itself in completed form. The same way an artist might have a momentary violent revelation of the spirit of what they are creating, in such a way that they finally understand that they are not the one doing the creating. The idea is whole and mature and older than time; it is simply making itself known by using the artist’s body and spirit as a host and vehicle. In the same way, the holographic imprint of the seed’s realized form washed over me, leaving behind a residue of new awareness.  

We are in a world of shadows doing battle with other shadows. When I speak to a grown man whom I believe to have power over me, I recognize only that his power is the shadow of the frightened child who still lives within him and enacts its morbid fantasies so as to stay a foot or two ahead of the fear. We are dancing with all manner of wounded wraiths, so we’d best tread lightly. Most people are not their humblest and highest selves the majority of the time. They are ever-shifting, metamorphic entities choking on their bile and shame and intent on offering you a heaping dose of the same. 

Every day, those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to see the world as it is (and I dare not count myself among their ilk) recognize that we are always shadow-boxing with the volatile and fragile egos of people who have no idea what their true intentions or motivations are, and who have no way of meaningfully evaluating their own biases or laying waste to their most harmful misconceptions. To drag them out by their hair into the  cool darkness of night, the moon and stars mild and luminous in their clarity above, would be to court the worst in the people over whom we seek influence (and if we are honest with ourselves, control). Nobody likes an earnest truthteller. This is what the seed informed me of, and this is what the seed has brought forth.

I’m Nirmala Nataraj, a New York–based writer, editor, book midwife, theater artist, and mythmaker.

As someone who has woven in and out of a number of different word realms—nonprofit communications, advertising, theatre, publishing, and community arts, to name a few—I know that liberation is possible through the stories we choose to tell. As a first-generation South Asian American, I myself exist in the liminal spaces between cultures, art forms, and languages—and it is this multiplicity of narratives that informs my personal and professional approach.

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