I stand at the window in the shadow of the maple tree. The morning sun falls through the branches into an incandescent pool of light on my bedroom carpet. It is the spring of 1990, the morning after a horrible car accident. Emerging from the burning wreck of the car, I had looked up at the sky and saw the moon for what seemed like the first time. I stood entranced by its glow as the ambulances arrived, and in the distance, I had heard someone shouting: "Move out of the way, the car is on fire."

Today, I notice my arms, my legs and the glaringly beautiful blue of the sky. In my mind, I hear the screech of the brakes, and the echo of metal melting into metal. I see that fragment of a flash that I saw last night; my whole, short life unraveling before me in slow motion. And I ask myself: Why? Why am I alive? Does my life have a purpose? But I'm only 13 years old, and I'm not sure what the answer is. That morning I promise myself I will figure out the purpose of my life. And as I gaze out into the front yard I notice the new, tiny buds peeking out from the soil below. Were they there yesterday? Why didn't I notice them before? I hear a wisp of a wise voice within me: This is a wake-up call. Don't go back to sleep.

In my mind, I hear the screech of the brakes But there were springs after that when I didn't notice the new flowers and radiant sunrises at all. The maple tree continued to silently stretch its branches towards my bedroom window, and its amber red leaves faithfully appeared and disappeared each year. Smaller wake up calls followed. On a ski trip, I went off the trail and was lost for hours in the freezing cold. I still have no idea how I found my way back. When I finally spotted the ski lodge I was so grateful, and for a few hours afterward I marveled at the close call. But then I went back to sleep. And so it went. The bomb that went off in the shuk minutes after I left. The Lego that I found in the baby's mouth right before he swallowed it. The family that showed up at our doorstep when we needed someone to take over our lease. The career that ended only to make way for a long buried dream. The near miss on the way to the airport. The close call at the doctor's. Wake up!

Have you ever noticed how children hate sleeping? They are perpetually excited about ... anything other sleeping. They know how to wake up and greet the day. And furthermore, they seem to know how to stay awake. I sit at the dining-room table and listen in awe as my 6-year-old reads the same paragraph aloud for the 20th time.

"My teacher said we can read it as many times as we want. Most of the class does it three times. But I want to do 20 times." My daughter explains as she slowly pronounces each word. Meanwhile, her sister is practicing her somersault for the 100th time on the living-room carpet.

"Ima, look at me!" she cries. At the kitchen table, another child sits mesmerized in front of a nature book. She studies the page on spiders for a long time, and then she holds up the picture of the web.

Children are naturally attuned to the tiny miracles "That comes out of the spider's body! Can you believe it?" But sometimes children notice so much that I forget to listen to what they are saying. Look at the wind in the olive tree. There's a fire engine down the block! It's raining! It's foggy! There's a striped cat in our garden. Can we give it milk? Look at the lizards underneath the porch light! Children don't seem to need loud, earth shattering wake up calls to grow because they are naturally attuned to the tiny miracles beneath the surface. The seed that splits open. The roots that begin to crawl outwards in the seemingly frozen earth. This may be why my first-grader is willing to read that paragraph 20 times, and my third-grader wants to keep practicing her somersaults. Because they know somehow that eventually, the first bud does break through the surface.

And if we wake up to the myriad, subtle signs around us, we may also finally break through the earth and discover the most mysterious kindness of growing in this world: life continues in frozen soil. People grow even as they sleep. And at this time of year, we are granted another spring. Another wake-up call, another chance to re-discover your life's purpose, to see the beauty beneath the surface. Don't press snooze

In order to be persistent, you need to work beneath the surface. On the ground level it will seem like all your work is for nothing. You don't see even the first green shoots yet. There is no movement. But underneath the soil, the roots are steadily reaching down, and the seeds are developing. The sap is rising silently and invisibly in the trees. If a gardener is impatient and tries to force the plant to grow, he will end up destroying the seed. And this is true for any worthwhile effort in our lives. We need to be willing to focus, to work persistently even when it looks like the branches will stay bare forever.

I watch my daughter practicing her latest dance steps beneath the empty branches of the tree in our garden. And I can clearly picture the day when the flowers will appear, one bud and one step at a time.