Since the invention of language, poets and writers have strained every linguistic fiber and stretched every metaphoric muscle to celebrate the magic of spring. Songs have been written, symphonies composed, paintings painted, and sculptures sculpted. We’re perennially drawn to the emblematic power of spring because it represents our own capacity to begin again, to rise from the ashes of winter, and to stand reborn in the bright light of redemption. Spring is proof that death is not real. No matter how low and how long the downturn, there is always resurrection. Hidden in plain sight, right before our eyes, spring turns the myth of eternal recurrence into concrete fact. The wisdom of spring is ripening all around us.
Grow. Like ascending fireworks, flower bulbs shoot up long thin columns that burst into color. The smooth and deceptively barren wood of deciduous trees erupts with buds that split open, unfurling bright green flags in the wind. Everywhere new forms arise from the pregnant core of old forms. The emptiness of winter fills with emerging shapes casting new shadows across the thaw. And like the awakening world around us, the restlessness we feel inside of our body, mind, and soul is our own endless unfurling. We hunger to learn more, see more, be more, and find new ways to give voice to the music within us. Learning to get out of the way, we allow what is emerging through us to flower and expand into fruition.
Be bold. In springtime, life gets loud. Every living thing comes out of its shell and stands tall. Colors just a little too vivid, bird songs just a little too shrill, sunlight just a little too bright – everything is over the top, unafraid to grab attention and rise above the rest. What if we dropped our practiced reticence? What if we stopped being so…beige? What if we let the explosive beauty of our own inner nature finally arise unfiltered, unprocessed, raw, and impetuous? Would we frighten our more polite neighbors? You’re alive, and life is messy. So be it.
Play. Newborn lambs bound across the field, leaping in the air for the sheer joy of having legs. Coyote pups roll in the sage grappling and snarling in mock combat. Everywhere the young at heart let a skip into their step and do delightful things for no good reason. What if we let the simple enjoyment of being alive guide us for an hour or so? Would we really fall so far behind on our precious to-do lists? Or would our mindless reverie invigorate and enliven our deeper creativities? Fall into play, and watch your productivity climb tenfold.
Celebrate. Nature decorates itself majestically. Festooned with blossoms and flowing curtains of green, a dogwood and cedar forest draws close around a meadow of columbine like a gathering of family. Through the meadow runs a ribbon of cold clear water the color of lapis and quicksilver. Butterflies float from blossom to blossom like thoughts meandering through a placid mind. In our homes we clean and renew and restore and rededicate. We paint rooms, clear out garages, and wash windows. We set tables, light candles, arrange bouquets, and prepare meals from the bounty of our gardens. We welcome friends and let the space in which we gather become a sacred place of commemoration and celebration, banishing the mundane banality of our aloneness with the mirth of our songs.
Be beautiful. Nature cannot help but be beautiful. Her beauty arises out of her own nature, not arduous effort. So too the beauty of our lives arises out of our own nature and not through calculated artifice or clever striving. We do not add one speck of beauty to our lives by worrying if we are good enough or by comparing ourselves with others. Yes our clothes and hair and make-up and jewelry are wonderful, and it is certainly fun to play in the field of forms, but real beauty is an inner light not of our own making. You can’t find it at the mall. Beauty is not something you buy – it is something you are.
Take chances. Rabbits run the same trails as coyotes. Mule deer sleep in the meadow with mountain lions. Sparrows fly in the flight lines of Cooper’s hawks. New sagebrush and lavender spring up from the scorched earth left by last year’s wildfires. Nature risks everything for a chance to fly, run, or bloom. In our own lives there are always a million reasons why it’s never going to work and a long list of impending disasters. Instead of carefully cataloging the height and width of every barrier, marveling at the power of our enemies, and inventing problems that never happen, let us simply take root, take flight, or take the next step as if the universe were conspiring in our favor, because it is.
Shine right where you are. When a seed falls in a crack in a granite boulder it doesn’t dream of loamy meadows – it grows and blooms right where it is. Every place is the right place to be. Making peace with our genetic code, saying yes to the conditions of our lives that we cannot change, practicing deep and mindful acceptance – these are the gifts we give ourselves on the path to serenity and effectiveness. How can we truly grow, create, and thrive if we do not first stop resisting what is?
Say yes to love. When spring lights up the world, love is certainly in the air. Love invites us into a deep and vital reckoning with all that is good and bad about ourselves, all of our unconscious maladies and beauties. In love we must surrender to the truth about whom and what we really are. Nothing is hidden, all is revealed. In order to embrace and be embraced by love, we must tap into everything we know and apply every skill as artfully as possible while simultaneously relinquishing control and surrendering to music we did not write and cannot fully hear. We must embody everything spring has taught us. We must allow growth, be bold, recover our playfulness, celebrate our beauty and the beauty of others, take enormous risks, and learn to shine in the here and now of this time and place. When we answer the call and join together with another in love, we come to know, not in our minds but deep in our bones, that this life-force surging in us, through us, and as us is an energy not of our own making, and the very fact of our lives is a mystery and a majesty no poet, sage or prophet has every fully conveyed or understood. When we love we dive deep into that formless ocean of sacred consciousness that goes down and down and down to the place where all of the riddles are solved, all of the heartaches are healed, and all of the secrets are revealed – but when we rise again to the surface we cannot bring any of that with us. We reappear naked and naïve, stripped of insight and bereft of wisdom – frolicking like fawn in the meadows of renewal, caught by the beauty and significance of the world, but strangers in it still and awkward in our own skin. Yet there beside us is a trusted friend, a soul like us, a kind face, a hand up, a loving embrace, and in their presence we feel our worth, and we learn to trust their trust, honor their honor and take refuge in the shelter of their love. Together we rise up and take our place among the sacred things of this world. Together we are beautiful and free. Together we honor the seeds from which we came and grow strong enough to pass along what we have been given in the great blossoming. This and so much more is what we learn from the wisdom of spring.
Peter Bolland is a writer, speaker, singer-songwriter, and professor at Southwestern College where he teaches comparative religion, Asian philosophy, ethics, and world mythology. You can find him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/peter.bolland), follow him on Twitter (www.twitter.com/peterhbolland), or write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org