The Promise of Spring

As I was walking with Sam this morning, I saw the first sign of spring — tiny yellow crocus heads and green spike arms pushing their way out of the ground, stretching towards the sky, unfolding, beginning to bloom.

I felt so relieved I almost cried. Not for the reasons you might think. The actual winter, the weather, hasn’t bothered me so much — except for those few weeks where each night it dipped below zero. Rather it’s the winter in my heart that has lasted too long, lingering past my capacity to endure it, too sad and too dark, heavier than I can hold.

Just before I saw the flowers, I’d been thinking about how confusing it is to be human. Specifically I was contemplating how at the moment we sense we are losing control, when we feel like what we are trying to hold or save is slipping away, we tighten our grip. It’s such a strong instinct, such a powerful habit. We tense up and start grasping before we even realize we are doing it. We hold on, cling, attempt to cement contact and exert control. We see force and resistance as allies in our effort.

Compassion and wisdom suggest a different approach. When we feel we are losing control or things aren’t going the way we want, what we should actually do is release our grip — soften, relax, let go, surrender.

For me, for example, if I’m too busy, have too much to do and am feeling overwhelmed, I go straight to speed, as if by going faster I will somehow catch up. I think if I move more quickly, I’ll be able to keep up. This isn’t what happens though. Getting busier doesn’t allow me to manage the situation of too much, because too much is too much.

Slowing down, softening, letting go of my expectations is the antidote. The fix for too busy is to be less busy. The way to restore overwhelm is to rest. The solution to trying too hard is to give up.

Ringo "helping" in the garden

Ringo “helping” in the garden (he’s been ripping the stems off my irises, and he laughs at my attempts to stop him). Apparently his dad, Spec, was also a master gardener.

I’m beating myself up right now because Ringo has a cold. I was pushing myself too hard, feeling overwhelmed by everything I was “supposed” to be doing to socialize and train him. We were going to puppy classes twice a week and taking field trips. Somewhere in all that rushing around, he picked up the sniffles. Now he’s on lockdown, can’t go anywhere, and we had to postpone his final set of shots for a week, which means an even longer wait before we can walk him, start him in a basic training class or take him to daycare. He doesn’t get what the fuss is all about since he’s feeling fine other than the occasional sneeze and the cutest intermittent snoring when he sleeps, but I’m feeling guilty and trapped.

“What stands in the way becomes the way.” ~Marcus Aurelius

No matter what I do, spring will come. “This too shall pass.” Ringo will get better and eventually do all the things that got interrupted. He’ll grow up and be such a good dog. There will be days and days that turn into years in which he won’t need me to watch him every second to keep him from inadvertently killing himself. The best thing I can do right now is to soften, relax, ease up, let go, loosen my grip, surrender.

I’m trying.

7 thoughts on “The Promise of Spring

  1. Linda @ Notes from the arena

    oh Jill, I love this. I too was so so relieved at the first signs of spring. The beautiful lilac flowers (I’m no gardener so don’t know the name) with orange centres and it made me do a double take on my bike, I felt so lucky to see them on my cycle ride, as I had specifically gone to take photos. It felt so comforting to see the blooms popping out, after this long and dreary winter with nothing buy grey and more grey. It has been reflected in my mood and outlook too. I feel so much lighter now I can see colour outside again.

    I hope you experience an internal seasonal change soon too.

      1. Linda

        Jill, thank you! I have so little knowledge of all the plants we get! yep, was completely surprised, didn’t expect to see them so soon. Saw lots of tiny daffodils today,and they made me smile! 🙂

  2. Mary Montanye

    This is an exquisite post, Jill. So beautifully written, so important, so true, so needed by me right at this moment. Thank you!


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