Embracing the Fallow Times


This capacity to linger in the unknown and see what happens is the passage to your creative self.” Gail McMeekin, 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women.


When I am at my most intently aware, I look to nature to find examples that correlate with the human condition to help me to better understand it. The word “fallow” bubbled up for me the last time I was in a life transition. I thought about why this word felt meaningful and tried to understand its message.

Thinking of fallow, words like “empty”, “unproductive” and “vacant” come up. During times of transition when you are stuck somewhere between two somethings, it can feel very muddled and unclear. And, if you are like most, the desire to return to a sense of normalcy is high, where goals seem clear and you are once again aligned with purpose and direction. What I have come to understand about feeling fallow is that it is not what it appears. Often when I have felt this vague sense of unknowing, I later realize that much is going on under the surface. I equate it to sowing seeds (conceiving ideas), that are germinated and waiting to see which ones take root. It takes trust to patiently wait until something grows to the surface, becoming visible and real.

The key word here is visible, which, in this case, is the outward presence of the tangible work related to putting actions into new ideas, aspirations and goals. It’s all about setting a solid foundation and I have learned that this is not something that can be rushed or willed to the surface.

Thinking about nature and harvest cycles, crops must rest for a season to get the most abundance out of the soil. After this fallow phase, the earth is richer and ready once again to be tilled and planted. We can say the same for how we work most optimally, especially during times of transition, when much of the activity is subconscious and still under the surface. Society often pressures us to know what’s next and to have a plan, and it takes a lot to trust the process and not rush with ready-made answers that may sound good but are not coming from our truest selves. Instead of offering to ourselves and others what’s familiar on a road already traveled, it’s wiser to slow down, keep a lower profile and be patient, knowing that under the surface there lies a renewed, reintegrated way, but it takes time and creativity to germinate.

This fallow, more introspective time, offers opportunities for spiritual renewal, journal writing, pleasure reading, playing hooky for pure fun (a matinee, a hobby; a sport?) Traveling, low threshold training opportunities (like attending a conference or community college class), and spending time with supportive family and friends are also ideal ways to invest in yourself.

Trust me, soon enough these creative seeds will grow and you will be back to a renewed sense of purpose, filled with possibilities and a vision for the future. We reap what we sow–so try and enjoy this more tranquil time and embrace not knowing for all of its abundant possibilities.

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