Snow is melting, sap is flowing, and crocuses are eagerly waiting for open ground. Vaccines are happening, restrictions are easing, and our conversations are tentatively including at least hope for future plans of togetherness. It is so interesting to see the natural thaw of seasons and the thaw of pandemic lockdown happening at the same time.
As hopeful as this time feels, I suspect this transition time will be a complicated one. It is a huge switch from what we’ve been conditioned do over the past year. Yes, it’s great to plan for seeing people again–and seeing people is weird now! We haven’t practiced it in so long!
I wonder about people who have been very locked down and how their nervous systems and hearts will respond to the multiplicity of potential interactions on the horizon. I wonder about what the blurred boundaries between home and work means for us in the short and long term. I wonder how friends and family, possibly already in conflict throughout the pandemic due to their different responses to it, will navigate this transition time as options expand in how we can be together. I wonder a lot about kids and teens, whose nervous systems are so young and who have lived such a great portion of their lives in this rigidly bounded time. How will they adapt to new freedoms, spaciousness, and social engagement?
There are a zillion unknowns coming up, to add to the zillions we’ve already had. Our nervous systems are already taxed and none of us know how to do these next steps, nor is there anyone who has done this before that we can ask for guidance. I am so thankful that spring is emerging along with us in this transition. If we look for it, nature is full of lessons for us right now.
Spring doesn’t happen overnight, for good reason. Hibernating creatures couldn’t adapt to an immediate temperature change of 20 to 75. Plants can’t go from freezing to blooming in a day. Maple sap would never flow without gradually warming daytime temperatures coupled with cold nights. All these creatures need time to adjust, as will we. Spring comes gradually and slowly, and letting yourself ease gradually and slowly into whatever a post-pandemic world looks like makes sense!
Sometimes, all the snow melts from your yard, you are eagerly anticipating crocuses, and the snow flies yet again. (Or the vaccine eligibility shifts.) It doesn’t mean spring isn’t coming. Just wait a little longer. You’ve done it for this long. You can do a few more days or weeks. It sucks, sure. But look back on how much snow you’ve already shoveled and know that you and your shovel can do a little bit more. To help with the waiting…
Delight in the Small Changes
Early spring is tasted in gusts of temperate wind, sunshine on warm faces, new bird songs, and the slow exposure of bare ground. Eventually, green emerges and new shoots push up through ground. Let’s look for those small changes in our pandemic world. Trust that even the tiniest of new green shoots represents a whole organism full of energy and beauty soon to come.
I think of all the new life that emerges in nature in the spring, from plants to baby birds to baby animals. All these new creatures figuring out the world that is brand new to them, exploring with all their senses. In some ways, we are all going to be like baby birds in this next phase. The world is different. We are different. And we have to figure out how we show up in the world. Approaching this with a sense of curiosity and exploration (rather than fear or expectation) may go a long way towards easing this transition time.
Don’t Do This Alone
That crocus doesn’t bloom all by itself. It needs sunlight, rainfall/snow melt, healthy soil full of micro-organisms and nutrients, and probably lots more I don’t know about. Likewise, we can’t figure out these next steps on our own. Stay connected with friends, family, and the natural world. If you’ve felt like you’ve been doing okay enough up until now but are struggling now, that makes so much sense. To make it through these last many months, many people pulled their emotions, at least partially, into a sort of protective hibernation. But in this thawing time there are expanded options, fewer black and white rules, and maybe a little more space to acknowledge the pain of the past year. This may be a great time to seek some outside support through therapy or another healing modality. Not because there’s anything wrong with you. Because it’s been a tremendously hard year. Because transitioning into whatever comes next is complicated. And because you want to make sure coming out of this that you are able to fully bloom.