What Spring Teaches Us About Life
Yes, I know the idea that spring and life are related is certainly not an original one. From the budding of flowers to the chirping of baby birds we have plenty of support from nature for such a statement. But let’s just look at the very beginning part of it (before the tulips and sweet green grass) because perhaps we are missing what spring is really saying about life…
Leaping between islands of stubborn brown ice we try to avoid the sidewalk rivers as we take turns walking one by one on the various edges and curbs that promise dry feet. With so much attention focused on our path, much of what we see on this walk is taken up by the view of forests of cigarette butts dispersed with food wrapper flowers and of course dog shit mountains.
As we grow older, we know better than to trust the sky during this season. So often it has built up our naive excitement with a sudden summer day, only to brutally punish those who too eagerly took off their snow tires and packed up their coats. It seems the only guarantee offered with spring is that you will not be dressed appropriately for the temperature.
On those sunshine days, an anthem of pessimism sings “It will not last,” through the crowds from old to young.“Watch, I bet it will snow next week,” and it likely will.
Where are the sweet scents of roses? All I can smell is the stench of the sun warming all of those “mountains” people thought it would be fine to leave under the anonymity of snow flakes. As the snow melts it reveals everything else we also thought it would be fine to bury-as if somehow not seeing it meant it was not there. A lonely glove, curls up beside the empty water bottle.
Spring is dirty!
It oozes and drips, thaws, freezes, then thaws again. It smells and it breaks our hearts with the lack of commitment Weather is willing to give us.
Now, even after the bare minimum sex-ed high school class I think everyone would be quite ready to agree that birth (and therefore life) is equally dirty. I won’t go too much into the details, but trust me when I say analogies with muddy puddles work quite well with both spring and the beginning of lives.
To those cheesy quotes plastered on picture frames that claim “Life is Beautiful” I send a picture of a red freshly born baby’s squealing damp face. We begin life in a mess, and forever afterwards are farting, hurting, humiliating, and falling our way around the sun.
Even the actions that preceded your birth were messy! After all, the only way tomake a life is by being dirty (ooh la la).
So we can all agree that the realistic view of spring and life is filthy.
What a relief!
Imagine if life really was always beautiful? If you were flown into the window of your parents house all clean and rosy and magically never needed a diaper change or cream for your rash. Imagine if preteen middle school years didn’t exist? No awkward first mustaches sitting above clunky braces framed by zit spotted skin. No stinking!
But how would we be able to know if life was beautiful if it always was? Think of the pressure that would put on us! When I begin to think of how much joy stems from life’s ugliness-how many laughs and stories we would miss out on if life were perfect-well, frankly, that just doesn’t sound appetizing to me!
Let life give me something to sink my teeth into.
I want to squish my heart into puddles of muddy sadness so that I will know what it feels like after a fresh shower of happiness and gratitude. I want my life’s relationships, accomplishments and lessons to have to slowly struggle to the surface of the ground so that I might revel in each millimeter closer to the bloom. I want to accept and experience the moody weather of my emotions and experiences.
The fact that life is not beautiful should fill you with excitement and compassion. Within you there will be seasons of spring where you may feel ugly, soggy, and distrustful. Yet, (because this season is included in our year) you can be sure that your flaws are included in your life. Do not be afraid of them! Do not try to push them away because they are a wonderful part of the deal.
Go out into those spring days when it is sunny, and scour the ground for green that may be newly popping out. Let this point to the processes and growth that you are currently in. You may not be at the bloom, but you are aiming in the right direction and you are changing!
Look at all the garbage on the ground and ask yourself what has accumulated for you this winter? What is it that you clung to for warmth? Is there a water bottle of pessimism curled up with a lone glove of dependence? What habits did you develop? Have your beliefs changed? Have you ever actually thought about your beliefs? As spring thaws your heart, pay attention to the exposed piles of accumulated garbage that you left to deal with at a later time. There’s a reason spring is good for cleaning! And while it is incredibly important to above all remain supportive and compassionate with yourself, it can also be fun to pick up some of that garbage and prune your inner garden.
As winter pushes us to the very end of our patience, spring steps in at the last minute to remind us why we endure it. We are given tastes of spring just enough to keep us going until winter is satisfied and fulfilled. The death of one experience of life signs the birth of another. Yet, like spring, we are to patiently wait until the grief has had its’ turn.
In life you will experience death over and over again. This may simply refer to the end of a relationship, lifestyle or any goodbye you may face. After the immediate sadness-when you finally begin to move on from grief-you must remember that there will still be winter storms in April. You are not a failure for feeling nostalgia or grief long after you decided you were “over it”. Graciously allow the dark/cold feelings to take as long as they need because spring shows you that beauty and love survives every single frost.
So enjoy this transition! Clean up some of your garbage while seeing how much you have changed this winter. Observe the millimeters that you are currently gaining, and be patient with your own transition through inner seasons. Remember that life can be ugly! But that this ugliness is necessary to fertilize the beauty.
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
This is an entry from the first version of my original blog site Shelp. It was posted on Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 at 6:30 pm.