Friday, April 1, 2011

Even in the Summer the Ice Doesn't Melt

After a exceedingly long winter, I've eagerly awaited my gardens to wake up from their long nap, push threw the earth, and brighten my mood. This morning I woke to an April Fools day surprise: my gardens are covered with snow.

I'm likely not to see my early spring plants again until next year: their tender fleeting beauty will be hidden again until next spring. However, baring some sort of environmental calamity, my plants will persevere: they will grow, bloom, flourish, and eventually die. I'm not so sure they even notice the snow. If they do, they don't tell me. They just do what they do.

Can the same be said for people? Can we live our lives in such a way where we don't notice the weather? Can we just do what we do?

Several years ago I worked with a college student from the West coast. Outside my office window I had a view of an area that was densely populated with old trees. She frequently comment on those trees. At first it would be about the fall colors of the trees. As the first tinge of color would appear she talked about how excited she was to see her first autumn.

As the autumn of her first year of college progressed, so did her first experience with depression. Rather than excitement about the oranges, yellows, and reds, her mind became consumed by fear. Do the trees die in the winter? Do they every forget how to grow leaves?

As the long winter progressed we kept looking out the window. "I know you said the trees are still alive," she said. "What happens if winter is too long?" We kept looking and kept talking. Sure enough, the tender spring buds appeared. As the trees just started showing signs of life my client asked, "what if it snows in the spring and the tender buds all die? Can the tree grow more buds?"

The trees of course did come back to life. My client did too. Right before she left for a new school she presented me with beautiful handmade card. She fashioned a replica of a particular gnarled old Magnolia tree out of construction paper. The tree was alive with a mass of tender pink blossoms. She was alive too, fully in the spring of a new life.

I'm glad she came back to life and that spring came so quickly. For some, however, spring comes slowly--if it comes at all. David K. Reynolds writes:

Feelings shouldn't be ignored--how could we ignore a snowstorm, anyway? But when you have to go out in a blizzard, you go out. That is the way it is to be human. The feelings are there, but we do what we have to do. Even in the summer, when the ice hasn't melted, shivering, we do what we have to do.
What is certain is that I am sometimes this, sometimes that. Sometimes pleased, sometimes not; sometimes confident, sometimes not; sometimes compassionate, sometimes not. the ice doesn't melt at my whim. It doesn't melt no matter how well I understand its origins or believe I understand its origins. It may not  melt despite my persistent efforts to change the circumstances that I believe to be maintaining it. In such cases what else is there to do but shiver and go on about living?
 What do you think?


  1. The hope that spring is on its way is what sustains most of us and makes us go on. But do not the best of us despair sometime? Still, we have no choice but to take each day as it comes...

  2. That's where I think the power is, Sharmila: knowing that the despair is fleeting just like the happiness--and knowing that we can do things despite of our feelings.

    Thanks for the comment.