People change in the spring. Waiting on the subway platform, searching for ripe avocados at Trader Joe’s —we all become less rude. At the minimum. Some people light up and become unrecognizable from their bear-like hibernating winter selves. The sunlight and warmth are of course part of this change, but I think it is something more too....we are living through some giant metaphor in spring. The seasons prove that we can be reborn and transformed. Even after the soupiest, grayest, blizzard filled winter, the sun will feed the tulips in the giant ceramic planters guarding the entrances of the Upper West Side buildings. Seeing these blooms is good for all of us. It reminds us that nothing is permanent, and that no empty patch of dirt will stay that way forever.
Spring is hopeful. Contentment is surprisingly rare among the people I meet, especially given how much we have. Most of us are seeking growth or fulfillment or even total over hall. When we are stagnant and restless, knowing that time move forward can sometimes be the saving grace. Because true depression, I find, is when we despair that nothing will get better. We struck without hope of a personal spring.
On my walk home, I saw a little girl in a bright blue winter coat eating an ice cream cone on a park bench, her yellow rainboots dangling several inches off the ground. It was too cold to go without a jacket (at least for her dad to let her) but still warm enough to eat ice cream outside.
Transformation is deeply desired by us. I mean, it is how I make my living: people looking for better health (or, more honestly, a better body) hire me. I am part of the change industry that promises a better future. And I believe in change and transform constantly. I can barely recognize myself year to year, whether it be my body, my work, or my relationships. I live by the mantra that nothing is permanent, and we can pull the threads as they appear. We can be fluid in our definition of ourselves. “I learn by going where I have to go” is the refrain one of my favorite poems (“The Waking” by Roethke).
However, my goals are more like guidelines. I find that having an end in mind sometimes does nothing more than distract me from where I am supposed to wander. The possibility of spring is always there, and I can always transform, but sometimes the transformation I want and pursue isn’t the one that is given to me. And I try and be open to that outcome.
And the transformation we seek isn't always the one that would bring meaning to our lives. Often we want to change ourselves into something that someone else has decided we should be...because we should look a certain way, act a certain way, or be good at certain things. It especially makes me sad in the case of appearance. The way we look is only a portion of who we are as humans, and it is honestly one of the least impactful parts of our identity. And yet, our confidence is often defined by it. The work we make, the thoughts we express, the energy and time we give to our friends and our loved ones, our education...to me, these are all more important than the way our hair falls or how much we weigh. And yet, when we think of transformation, most of us think of makeovers. Transformation is always just hours or weeks or months or years of work away, but that before we go chasing this idea of spring, what kind of transformation does what spring does? What creates joy and warmth and kindness and hope not hours of maintenance and isolation and rigidity? What create connections and art and strength and triumph? What kind of transformations are worth undergoing?
I am not anti-beauty. And I am certainly not anti-health. We build our life on our health. But our physical impression is only one impression that we make on the world. I would love to see a drive to be stronger, smarter, kinder, and brighter in the same way we are driven to be beautiful. Spring is beautiful. But the beauty is only part of the special-ness: the hope, the freshness and the light are what touch me.