Let me begin by saying something about “paying attention”. Why is it that when we start to pay attention to something we see it everywhere? Take for example when we are thinking about buying a new car; suddenly we see that exact car in the colour we want, everywhere. So it was for me this summer with the floating acorn. I had been reading the book The Soul’s Code by James Hillman in which he talks about “the Acorn Theory”. Sure enough, as I went for my solo kayak ride on a warm summer afternoon, I saw a brown object bobbing in the water next to me. At first I thought it was an otter’s nose (we have a family of otters hanging out in our boathouse). But as it floated by, I realized it was an acorn. So I scooped it up and have since been thinking about it in relation to life.
In a nutshell, Hillman’s theory suggests that each of us is born with our unique potential inside, much the same as an acorn holds the pattern for an oak tree. He postulates that who we are goes beyond “nature and nurture’ and that a third kind of energy is responsible for much of our character, aspirations and achievement. He calls this energy the “soul’s code”. He challenges us to revisit our childhood and present life to find the seed of our acorn or our “calling”. Having read a few of Hillman’s books, I am intrigued at the unique perspective he brings to our understanding of human nature.
But back to the floating acorn which is now sitting on my bedside table; why did I notice it that day, and why am I still thinking about it now? It’s kind of like the new car scenario, once we bring something into our consciousness, we notice it everywhere. And it’s not surprising that I noticed there are now acorns everywhere. If the acorn represents a single life, then the acorn I found floating in the water spoke of the potential for a life well lived. It was well-worn from the winds and water that carried it; its shape was softened and smooth; and its shell had deepened to a rich brown colour. This reminded me of some of our earlier posts on beauty and aging. Like the floating acorn, there is something beautiful about the patina of a well-worn exterior. But this acorn was headed somewhere when I plucked it out of the water and I realized it would never reach its potential sitting on my bedside table. So, I decided to put it outside where it might have a chance to grow to its potential. And of course that has a double meaning but I’ll let you muse on that.
As summer slowly languishes and the cool winds of fall arrive, take note of what you are noticing, because whatever we pay attention to is what we will see. I will keep you posted on this one amazing acorn that found its way to me one sunny summer day! It may be weathered and worn, but it still has a lot of potential!