Spring is making her presence known. There is the beauty and fierce declaration of the blossoms on the fruit trees and the new foliage poking its way through the winter-tamped earth. It is the warmth during the day with just the right amount of chill at night. And there is lingering sun.
This seasonal rhythm is accompanied by increasing opportunities for getting together with friends, both indoors and out. This social interaction requires renegotiating locations and levels of comfort/risk being around others. In any other time, the sneezes and coughing would be ignored, understanding that it most likely comes from allergies. But, in this ongoing pandemic world, it is met with raised eyebrows and hasty explanations of clean tests and proof of vaccinations.
I am very aware of my own reluctance to go out matched by an equally intense yearning to be around others. It takes effort to overcome my ambivalence. There are well-worn paths between my bedroom, kitchen, study, and living room, having trod this interior treadmill now for almost two years. I am on autopilot driving to the post office, grocery store, gas station and home. When I consider a day trip to the coast, it seems overwhelming. When asked to visit someone else, I become anxious.
My inner judge and critic remain vigilant in catching scofflaws who are not paying attention to social distancing or who really should be masked. That same judge, I have to confess, frequently overlooks my transgressions in these areas for reasons I don’t quite understand.
I still tire easily, mostly because I am out of shape. And not just physically. I am out of shape with paying attention to what someone is saying, actually listening to them and then processing the thoughts and coming up with a conversational response.
I find myself drained after some encounters and inspired by others. Explanations for this variability usually ignore the obvious. Somehow, I hold myself to standards that demand unlimited concentration and attention. Actually, more like the family dog whose fixed gaze is hypnotic and broken only by the offer of a walk or food.
Needing to Adjust
I need to adjust my routines to fit with the changes in the season. Blankets need to be cleaned, folded, and stored for next winter. Flannel sheets need to be swapped out for lighter, cotton ones. Windows need cleaning and screens repairing so that fresh air can once again flow through the house.
I need to adjust my thoughts and allow myself to linger on possibilities for coming out of this long sequestration and recreating a social life. I need to remember how to make friends and influence people. I need to reach out more and establish new systems of support and commerce.
I am still not ready for long trips, but I am longing to take one! Friends, who are more courageous than me, are traveling to wonderful destinations and returning relaxed and happy. I experience their trips vicariously, smiling outwardly at their anecdotes and pictures, but feeling envious inside.
Barriers & Contradictions
Barriers to my traveling now include having to find a pet sitter, as well as the price of gas, and feeling a need to be frugal as long as prices are going up. Should an invitation be extended, all expenses paid, however, I suspect that I would put these arguments aside and just mask up and go.
This highlights the innate contradiction of my thinking and, in truth, the human mind. There is the gift (or maybe, curse) of being able to hold conflicting thoughts at the same time. And there is the aspirational need to have things be balanced, all the while preferring to be on the edges of excitement. There is the very real problem of pointing fingers at others (shame/blame) without ever looking in the mirror and exploring the origins of my own prejudices or asking why my way is better.
Hitting the Reset Button
Spring is also nature’s way of just hitting “reset” and wiping the slate clean and starting anew. Even as our species continues to demonstrate its inability to be kind and care for one another in loving ways, there is the possibility that we can change. There is a possibility that we may find ways to live with the pandemic and not experience wholesale deaths of millions. There is a possibility that we can learn to consume less, grow things using fewer resources, and not harm the earth in ways that will bring harm to ourselves. There is a possibility that tyrants and bullies will be neutralized, that we will transcend Old Testament notions of an eye for an eye and a soul for a soul, and actually turn our swords into plowshares.
I find reassurance inhaling the Spring air, redolent as it is in my part of the world, with the scent of apple blossoms. I find comfort in hearing the cries of the geese as they make their return flights to familiar waters. I find joy in the perennials bursting with color and braggadocio, whether they be crocus, daffodil, tulip, or poppy.
To the best of my knowledge, the winds, geese and flowers do not dither about purpose or consequences. They act out of some powerful override that demands action and commits itself with a single-mindedness that is sufficient to break winter’s hold.
Oh, how I wish I knew where that button was!