Spring always makes me want to try new things or try old things long given up upon again. You know when the weather shifts and nature starts to tease us with its delicate greenery and threat of flowers blooming sending just the faintest scent of wet earth intermingled with an ineffable floral aroma, it makes you want to get up and just do something. It seems that we, like the earth, are just waking up after a long dark winter. This resonates especially this year as we are finally starting to greet each other unmasked - a whole 2 years after COVID descended upon our routine lives.
A few weeks ago, it suddenly occurred to me that people looked so friendly. And then I realized that I had become accustomed to standing 6 feet apart and had not seen the lower half of any stranger’s face for 2 years. It actually felt a little awkward to be smiled upon…”Oh hello, do I know you? Why exactly are you smiling at me like that? Is there something on my face?” But it’s spring, and perhaps I smiled at them so they simply smiled back. Isn’t it strange how quickly we become unhabituated to things after a pause even after spending a lifetime cultivating them? It’s like meeting an old friend after some time without contact - how to act? What do we remember of each other? Does it still matter?
What about you? Do you remember who you were 2 years ago before we Zoomed to our meetings and Facetimed our family and friends on the regular, frantically swallowed down our sneezes and accidental throat tickles that might - god forbid - metamorphose into a full blown singular cough, and lived through the Great Toilet Paper Depression? Remember when it seemed everything was closed and how little there was to do? I, for one, was utterly taken aback by how quiet life had become. Prior to that, I’d believed that I lived a rather simple life coming and going with some ease, but when restaurants, theaters, stores, etc. were shut down or had reduced hours I felt the full impact of a life stripped of the most available distractions - distractions I didn’t even realize were distractions until I began to grow restless and bored. God, I just need to do something! But I couldn’t then, and I didn’t, and in that forced quiet space like a cave in the heart of winter, I learned about myself.
Try this - when you start to become restless, possessed with the need to do something or go somewhere, just sit with it a bit and see what unfolds. Do you know what I mean? Don’t take that drive just yet, don’t make that call, and don’t you dare click that Amazon buy button. Just wait 5 minutes, 10 minutes, maybe 15 if you can stand it. Let yourself be. Allow yourself to feel the discomfort, the impatience, whatever it is - just let it come. Sometimes I imagined that I was a royal personage motioning to these feelings and saying with some gravitas, “I’ll allow it.”
Now so very slowly at what has seemed like the pace of a snail going through molasses - please don’t even think of doing this to a snail - things have been opening up in the world at large again, and we must decide what we want to bring back into our lives. I love this piece of a poem by the late Mary Oliver, “ Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Really, I want to know. Are you going to go back to the way things were before? Is it possible? Do you want to? I like to think of the past few years as an “elimination diet” of sorts of the “things we do.” As we start reintroducing certain things back into our lives - places, activities, people, etc. - we have the opportunity to consider how we feel again with those things inhabiting our space. We might find that like some foods, they are terrible for us regardless of how much we’d become attached to them before. On the contrary, other things can and do nourish us to our core.
One of the things that I’ve been compulsively doing more of since spring has come around is just moving my body. Moving more has always made me feel better, i.e. happier and more energetic as a whole, and lucky for me, decreasing the time which we spend stationary has actually been shown to increase our lifespan and improve our health. For me, this looks much of the time like yoga and handstands both of which require some amount of conscious effort from me. This takes me out of my usual thinking mode - “What am I even doing with my life?”, “What’s for dinner anyway?”, “Am I out of soap?” - into an observing and feeling mode - “Woops, my shoulders are tense, I should pull them down the back”, “I’m starting to feel wobbly - posterior pelvic tilt and lower core activation!”
If you’re not familiar with the last 2 concepts, you might want to watch our Foundations of Exercise video of the month which highlights lower core activation. First of all, it will help you exercise more effectively, and even if it doesn’t give you that 6-pack (don’t get me wrong, it might, but that’s not the point), it will help you maintain better posture and get stronger. Secondly, if, like me, you tend to live in your mind, it will help you focus on the sensations in your body and bring you into the reality of what is happening now, not the past - “Why the heck did I do that stupid thing?”- nor the future - “But what if I fail?” Also, as thinking is not the same as feeling, those of us who think a lot can sometimes become disconnected from our emotions, and because emotions are felt in the body, getting to know the sensations of your physical body can help you access your emotions. Which helps you make better choices for yourself, like what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.
At the present moment, with the allure of spring upon us, the possibilities of what we can do and might do abound. As in spring cleaning, we actually get to decide what to throw out like things that have served as mere distractions and things that we find we can no longer tolerate, and keep as well as welcome in those things that truly nourish us. Why water plants that have long passed their expiration and have no hope of revival when there are seedlings all around? That, my friends, in this new world is a beautiful hope to wake up to.