Spring is a call for reinvention.
All through the winter we’re stuck in various modes of survival – surviving the dark, the holidays festivities, the infinite gray days – and survival is nothing more than fording the river between one dawn and the next. Survival is necessary, don’t get me wrong, but there’s little room from imagination.
Spring is fantasy on imagination. A symphony of it, a riot in every leaf and petal that appears seemingly overnight from branch and soil. For me, spring is firmly rooted in crocus and forsythia, often yellow before there is even green to herald as if a desperate reminder to forgetful hearts that there is such a color. Even the light, now that we’ve moved past the vernal equinox has more life to it, more bite, more energy – so much that I’m finding myself wearing sunglasses despite the continuing rain. And all that energy, all that color, stirs up thoughts that laid quiet in the meager season of survival.
I’ve been reading a lot about motivation, particularly trying to divine why mine has felt so fragile recently. I’ve been struggling to write. I’ve been alternately throwing myself at my job, staying late days in a row in a frantic attempt to “get it all done” (that phrase in itself should be enough to make me question my sanity) and dragging my feet in the best avoidance strategy I know – staying in bed. I’m even finding myself questioning decisions I made, or think I remember making, years ago as if undoing them could situate where I stand now. I keep feeling like there’s something else, sometime more, something different that I should be doing but I can’t figure out what that other thing is. I almost feel as if I’m waiting for something to bud out, I can’t remember where or what, and it’s completely out of my control, but I’m willing it to happen none-the-less.
So I’ve been reading about motivation – ideas of purpose, choice and mastery and how they link together to drive us internally – and in that strange way the universe has of webbing our daily lives in theme, other things have started to connect. Just yesterday, I caught a snippet of a book review on the radio. The woman was discussing how farmers in the mid west tie a rope from the barn to their house at the onset of winter as a method of survival. Just in case a blizzard blows in, they’ll still have a means of finding their way home. She talked about using this as a metaphor for self, that we each need to identify our own ropes, what are the things that bring us home when the blizzard tries to tear us away.
That, of course, got me thinking. What is my rope? More than that, where is my home? Something else I read recently talked about the one sentence, defining yourself in a single simple sentence that you want people to remember you by. If I knew that sentence, I guess that would be my home, but I don’t know what that sentence is, though I do know if “5th grade teacher” is somehow integral to it, I might be sick. I don’t want to be a 5th grade teacher, not in the greater scheme of things. I don’t want that to be my epithet. So, if that’s not my home, why am I spending the greater portion of my life there?
Or perhaps it is, leaving me to grapple with why I don’t like that. I mean, I seem to be a good 5th grade teacher, so at least there’s that. But it hardly seems like a grand accomplishment. There’s a lot of survival involved in teaching. Also copious amounts of imagination and erratic moments of the sublime, but despite that I’m not sure if this is really my home.
The greater purpose simply doesn’t seem…shiny, I guess.
If winter is about survival, clinging to the rope and dragging yourself back home, spring must be the joy of discovering where you’ve ended up once the snow melts.
I haven’t been writing much. It’s been a battle of self-loathing and guilt, of crappy television and pathetic internet diversions and I’m certainly not proud of any of it. No, definitely not proud of the number of times have intended to sit down and didn’t, or the thin stack of wandering pages I’ve written when I did. But this is the greatest number of failures and awful attempts I have ever achieved in my life. And trust me, I thought I learned early that when I suck at something it’s best to give up and save the embarrassment. But I’m apparently not giving up.
Now that the snow is melting, I can see the path I’ve beaten back and forth, the self-definition I keep coming home to. How could I be frustrated with myself for not writing if I didn’t consider myself a writer?
Spring is a season for reinvention, but reinvention doesn’t have to be as flashy as spring. Maybe instead of forsythia, this year I’m taking the route of our northwest native evergreens, just reinventing at the edges a little. And think about how impressive those trees become, with just a little reinvention at a time.