Back at the new year, I wrote about resolutions and how I find January a depressing time to try to commit to a large goal or purpose for the coming year. I was drawn to indigenous traditions I had heard of that used the Spring Equinox as a time to set goals and intentions, which made much more sense to me timing-wise. Spring Equinox was March 20th, we’re entering Easter and the eggs are being dyed and bunnies set out to decorate, so I thought it time to revisit that concept.
Humans have long celebrated the coming of Spring. It is a symbolic time rife with images of birth, growth and renewal. Especially in places like the Inland Northwest or Midwest where I was raised – coming out of a long winter and feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin again, seeing plants budding and hearing the return of the birds is so life-giving. I’ve often forgotten the sensation of walking outside without needing to bundle up and brace myself against the cold, forgotten the smell of earth, rain, and pollen, forgotten hearing all sounds of life from critters that have been dormant for months. The very idea of dormancy – of hunkering down and sleeping or resting before bursting out into the world with new life – is such a beautiful symbol of renewal.
My life in this particular Spring of 2022 lines up quite nicely with the symbolism. I’ve started a new job and am very happy with where I’ve landed. The pandemic is loosening its choke-hold on my social life, and I have many fun plans on the calendar to look forward to coming up soon. I am in a new space with regards to my faith history and find myself in a completely foreign and fresh mindset this Easter season. I am embodying the symbols of rebirth and renewal both professionally, socially, and spiritually.
Beyond this past winter and the literal, physical cold and darkness that winter brings, the last several years have felt dark, scary and cold. I’m still processing the Trump administration and all that entailed, still working through how to view my fellow citizens with grace and compassion when we’ve disagreed so dramatically and violently. I’m still learning about American racism and am losing my shock over how egregious mistreatment is still present in our modern, “post-racial” world as I see just how purposely and intentionally it’s been baked in all along. I’m still wrestling with how to best support my LGBTQ family – especially the transgender folks who have been under brutal, relentless attack from political policies and new laws in addition to their regular discrimination, bullying and harassment. I’m still wrapping my mind around the many effects of a global pandemic that has left close to one million Americans dead, over 200,000 children orphaned in the US, and wreaked havoc on the economy, supply chain, and employment sector. I’m still processing my own stuff from having been laid off twice in one year, being on unemployment for months, being an unplanned stay at home mom, being a small business owner and all the stress that comes with that, and being a friend and family member in all sorts of relationships with their own stuff going on.
And despite all that difficult stuff, I am realizing that there is still room for optimism. That the human story has been getting steadily better all along, even now. That we still have less deaths from war (although the horrific Ukraine war is unthinkably hard), still have doubled our life span, still have increased the birth rate and literacy rate world wide, still have more countries living in democracies than ever before, still have made huge advances as a species. Humankind is getting incrementally better with each passing decade (here’s a great Ted Talk on that topic if you don’t believe me).
It’s been a long, harsh winter, but Spring is here. New life and growth always follows dark, dormant days. I’ve felt myself split in half as I look at my own, individual life and the the collective suffering of society. I am in a great place and feel so at peace in my life. I’m in a job that I truly enjoy. That job comes with unexpected benefits and more money than I assumed I would make and has hours that fit my family’s needs perfectly. I am healthy. My kids are healthy, well-adjusted, and – keeping in mind realistic expectations for their age and level of development – are quite reasonable, helpful, kind, empathetic, and understanding (despite my 3 y/o showing me a whole other angle of “threenager” than I thought possible).
My spiritual revelation – namely that I no longer believe that a divine creator or god really exists – has left me feeling more free and at peace that I’ve ever experienced before. Not needing to defend God against all the moral and ethical controversies is a relief. Not feeling any pressure whatsoever to convert others to my set of beliefs has been freeing. Not doing the mental gymnastics to understand how a God defined in the Bible as Love itself could let so much suffering exist over the course of human history has given me a deep sense of peace. You would think that thinking there is no god and that we’re all simply here as a byproduct of evolution with no greater purpose or intention would make me feel existential angst, but in reality it makes so much more sense and takes the pressure off “why do bad things happen to good people?” They just do! Life is random, and we’re all simply along for the ride. We create purpose and meaning in our lives (or we don’t). We get to do our best to live a life of joy, peace and connection working with whatever is handed to us.
All that to say that I’m not feeling any big need for a Spring Resolution or goal-setting session. I’m along for the ride. It’s been a tumultuous, long winter season and I’m finally seeing the light. I’m reveling in the sun-rays on my skin, appreciating the budding trees and flowers and color bursting into the world again, taking delight in the bird song and warm breezes blowing through my hair. I’m savoring every hug and cuddle I receive from my kids, knowing they’ll be outgrowing such exuberant signs of affection sooner rather than later. I’m making sure to invest in my husband and our relationship as, twelve years in, the pull of auto-pilot is strong. I’m practicing seeing people as more than their vote or political beliefs. I’m trying to avoid hypocrisy and am looking at ways to put my money where my liberal mouth is and help some of the problems in society I lament. I’m recognizing how interconnected we all are on an individual and societal level and am doing my best to both lean on and uphold others where I can. I didn’t get anywhere alone, and I’m trying to look for opportunities to pay it forward where I can.
I’m attempting to truly appreciate all the big and small things around me.
Because this is my one shot to enjoy my life. I will only be me for a tiny blimp on the stage of the universe, and I want to chose Heaven over Hell every chance I get.