I have been to very few cities that receive the gift of springtime as well as DC. Sure, lots of locales have great weather and look plenty beautiful when spring arrives, but DC really knows how to make a season feel welcome. Cherry blossoms burst open and fill even the most unexpected street corners with color and life. Streetside cafes with newly-opened windows bubble over with aromas, music and laughter. Commuters stroll home from the Metro, taking in all the activity. Perhaps it’s because DC can be such a serious city – some rather serious work is done here, after all – but no city seems as ready to feel the sun on our shoulders and the grass between our toes as the place we call home.
It’s still early in the season here, and winter and spring have not yet completed their annual battle of wills (at least we know who wins!), but we’ve already been teased with a few days of pure, springtime bliss. As I’ve observed the city come alive on these warm afternoons, I’ve often thought with admiration, and some envy, about the plans that have no doubt been abandoned to make these impromptu leisurely lunches or days in the park possible. We are willing to abandon that which normally absorbs us when we feel that a fleeting reprieve is being offered. “It’s OK if I reschedule this meeting to check out a few minutes early today, since it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, and I won’t have this choice.” We surround ourselves with chaos, and jump at the opportunity to disconnect for what we believe is a temporary opportunity to exhale.
In reality, we have it backwards. We spend our days immersed in the details of problem-solving, pondering disappointments and dwelling on perceived failures, or doing our best to prevent them. When celebrations arise, we either can’t let go of our worries long enough to really enjoy them, or like springtime, we ride along on top of the high, considering it a temporary reprieve from reality. We focus on managing chaos and wait for serenity to find us. But if we allow ourselves to be as present in all of our joys as we are in our trials, we will find that opportunities for “reprieve” are abundantly present in our lives. We don’t have to wait for the cherry blossoms to peak to bloom a little bit on our own every day.
Spring brings with it new and renewed life, and as is inherent in all change, a frenetic energy that beckons us all to participate, to get caught up and shed the layers of winter, to start afresh and honor our authentic selves. Spring is nature’s gift but also her reminder that the opportunity to hit the reset button doesn’t come around just once a year.