It’s spring, and we are oh, so ready to throw ourselves into the rituals of the season. Ready to sink our hands into the warming soil as we prep our gardens and window boxes for the long stretch of beautiful months ahead. Ready to wiggle out of our jeans and into our capris as we excavate our closets, happily assigning no longer loved items into piles to sell, donate, and discard. Ready to attend to our porches and our stoops, to drag out the warm-weather-only cushions for the outdoor furniture. We are ready for it with a welcome sense of earned excitement, anticipating the season before us. Your particulars may vary, but you know that feeling.
There is comfort in these well-practiced rituals, along with intentional change. We look for something different to experiment with in our gardens, a current style or trend to incorporate into our wardrobes, or we go all out and buy a brand new set of outdoor furniture to freshen our outdoor living spaces.
The spring season is nature’s theatre of renewal and rebirth on full display, and we are eager to relish all of it. As we settle into the season and take a closer look, we realize that as spring returns, it always does so on its own terms and in its own fashion, no two years exactly alike. The house finches occupy new spaces. The verbena doesn’t survive the winter, and the irises have spread into unclaimed or already-claimed territory. We humans respond in predictable ways: we adapt our expectations; we conform and comply; we rage war with nature. However we respond, we participate in the intricate repertoire of renewal that is spring.
There is another spring, one more personal that calls us, that is always calling us, 365 days a year. It is the one that invites us into a greater expression of who and how we are, breath by breath, day by day. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche writes:
And life itself told me this secret:
“Behold,” it said,
“I am that which must overcome itself again and again.”
Overcome? Seriously? I get how you may hear that as an indictment. But I don’t. I hear Nietzche’s words as a clarion call to embrace my unfolding, my perpetual renewal. And here’s the thing: this is the one place where you and I have complete control, verbena be damned! While the erratic temperatures and unexpected storms wreak havoc with our notions of the perfect spring, remember that spring does triumph: in its own, perfectly-imperfect way. We can learn from her example. Difficulties in our own lives mess with our perfect plans. That’s when we do well to remember that “perfection” as an absolute, a magazine cover, a still life, a Hallmark movie, a gussied up social media narrative, has no place. This is life, after all.
The invitation is to allow ourselves to bloom as honestly and authentically as our courage and insight allow. And that’s the key. The idea of “overcoming” isn’t about making us wrong, bad, or incomplete. It is about recognizing that as awesome as we are, we get in our own way, we repeat our unhealthy habits, we get stuck in the same places over and over again. Much like spring, “overcoming” can be synonymous with renewal, if we allow for it.
This spring, I am opening the windows – literally and metaphorically – to invite the light into the rooms of my heart and down the corridors of my mind. I am walking, one foot in front of the other, peering into those places where I trip up, or hold myself back. Much as I attend to nature outside my door, I am attending to “nature” within: with compassion and a sense of humble partnership with life. I also know that this is no game of “win or lose,” and so I am trusting that while some seeds will take root, others will not. Some weeds will be eradicated, and others will prove harder to remove. No matter. This spring, as with every spring past and future, I plan to experience a perfectly-imperfect renewal.