Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Spring Frenzy

I started to write about Spring Fever because that's what I thought I was experiencing. But a quick trip to my dictionary and quite a bit of contemplation I've shifted my opinion of my symptoms. I think what I had was “Spring Frenzy.” With this clarity, I was more open to this week's insight and lesson.

I've discovered that for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Spring Fever has passed. Spring Fever is really that feeling of languor, listlessness, lethargy and yearning brought on by the nearness of spring not yet here. It's itchy and uncomfortable. Now it's April and fever has given way to frenzy. With each day, the pulse of spring breathes new life and makes everything look and feel packed full of possibility. So much possibility we feel we must take action.

A short walk along the creek is enough evidence that I'm not the only one with Spring Frenzy. Most of the wildlife is very busy indeed, emerging from their holes, crevices, and burrows for food and frolic. The creek is raging. The buds are out. The sap is running. The pin oaks are finally dropping their leaves. My jeans are forever mud smudged from cuff to knees. And where is all that dirt under my nails coming from? Daylight is brighter and stretching into evening hours, pushing back the night. I'm urged on to plant, sort and reorganize as busyness blows in on fresh spring breezes. This urge to renew every aspect of my life, and to do it quickly, is Spring Frenzy.

But, what about the renewal of my soul? Just a couple of days ago I saw my first real sign of spring. It was not the stereotypical robin, busily collecting worms and grubs and nest material nor the geese honking and flapping their way north. It was not the squirrels frantically chasing each other around tree trunks. It was not the first blooming crocus or a long ice float cracking and breaking away on the frozen lake. Here in Northern Michigan, I officially mark the coming of spring when I see my first group of men leaning on the bed of a pickup truck parked in the sun. I spotted this rare ritual not far from my home on my way to the grocery store. It was such an uplifting sight that I opted to take the same route home, hoping for a second glimpse. And there they still were. One more had joined the tribe but none had left. And all were pretty much holding the same stance and the same territory of the truck bed that they had assumed when I had driven by a good 45 minutes earlier. I’ll probably never be totally privy to the dynamics of this ritual. In my imagination, these are men, young and old, inspired by spring to make promises that deep down they know they cannot keep and tell stories they know they cannot live up to. If you know differently, please keep it to yourself. It doesn't really matter. My heart always breaks wide open at this sight, knowing that spring is officially here. I can learn from the “pickup guys.”

Prior to the sighting, my frenzy was making me desperate to force myself to live rightly, become fit and healthy, and make lasting changes in myself, my home and my life. After the sighting, I understand I was experiencing Spring Frenzy, that temporary lapse of sanity where getting things done and putting all in order is the only priority. I was gently reminded by the pickup guys to catch myself before I plunged headfirst into so much activity I actually missed spring. I remember now, that renewal of soul is what I’d been wanting from spring. And that too much activity can cause me to lose balance and the ability to relish and savor.

So this Spring, my only to-do list has become this: throw away all other to-do lists; put the hammock up now; sit in a warm patch of sun often; notice; focus only on the activity at hand, not the destination; and, find a pickup truck bed to lean on.

"Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself." ~A Zen proverb