Spring: Unbridled Anticipation
Spring is my favorite season in Seattle. It might be because the vibrant colors of pink, purple and fuchsia burst from the ground in the crocus, the hyacinth and the camellia as early as February, bringing color into an otherwise predominantly grey time of year. It might be because the sun shines so infrequently at this time that when it does, a sense of unprecedented community is formed when typical Seattle-Freeze residents all exit the safety of their homes to play in public spaces like parks, hiking trails, and beaches. It might be because new buds on trees and bushes are so fluorescent green they accomplish the nearly impossible feat of providing contrast in a state already evergreen. And while each of these reasons is worthy of the top position of why I love spring in Seattle, I have recently discovered one that is far more meritorious.
Last Sunday was one such rare sunny day in Seattle. The forecasters had predicted the temperature would get up to 70 degrees, shocking for mid-March. Upon this discovery, Karl knew I would insist on taking the 3-mile walk around our nearby beloved Green Lake. So, after church, we headed out with our jackets off and sunglasses on to soak up the much missed and desperately needed vitamin D. My skin felt the warmth of the sun instantly and my eyes were delighted by what I saw: dogs greeting one another with glee; strollers, bicycles, scooters and skateboards peppered the paved path with their traffic; lovers held hands, parents carried babies; there were baskers in the sun, reading books and listening to music; there were Frisbee discs being thrown and caught. The energy coming from the sun 96 million miles away ignited the dormant energy of Seattle bodies and the scene was electric.
When I walk I find myself most at peace and most at war at the very same time. I may be mulling over a trying preoccupation, or positively filled with gratitude for the creation around me. I may be wrestling with existential issues, or pausing to watch a spider build its web.
So, while Karl and I conversed casually, mostly about simple things, a depth of thought struck me when I paused to look above.
I was standing below one of Green Lake’s many ancient trees. And on this Sunday, there were only simple buds forming on its branches. But, suddenly, I remembered that last summer, I would walk under these trees fully canopied by their lush leaves, grateful for their shade. And that’s when it hit me. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that these trees’ buds will bloom and their branches will be filled once again with dense foliage. Let me say it another way. I can easily and without hesitation have unbridled anticipation that flowers will bloom, trees will blossom, the days will get longer and the sun will continue to usher forth its next season. Can we anticipate much else with such reckless abandon?
Let’s say you are hoping to get a raise. Can you let yourself anticipate what you will do with that money without any thought to what will happen if your pay doesn’t increase? Let’s say you are newly dating. Can you let yourself anticipate what attachment, connection, or intimacy may look like with this partner without any care that you might break up? Or what about saving and planning for a vacation? Can you indulge in fantasy and imagination of lying on a beach in some far off tropical destination without worrying about weather or sickness or lack of financial means ruining your trip?
When we are in eager anticipation of something good, we can’t help but doubt. Why do we do this? Because we have many examples in our past where things didn’t work out. Or perhaps we are protecting ourselves from disappointment – if we plan for things not to go our way, we will be less disappointed when they don’t. Or maybe we just don’t know how to trust that goodness exists and is meant for us; we don’t believe we are worthy.
So, we hedge our anticipation with doubt, dissociation, or control measures. We soothe ourselves because waiting and trusting is so hard to do. I can’t even anticipate seeing a captivating movie without having popcorn and candy to tide me over before the movie even starts!
But guess what? I don’t doubt that the trees around Green Lake will soon come into full bloom. I don’t have to dissociate and numb myself in my house because I’m afraid spring and summer just won’t happen this year. I don’t have to force flowers to push themselves up through the ground. I can anticipate more sun, vibrant blossoming colors, and lush green shade with wild and reckless abandon because it has happened every year and there is no doubt in my mind that it will happen again.
There are very few other things I can trust so completely. And perhaps that is the most meritorious reason for why I love spring so much – it is a promise of things that I have no doubt will come true.