Published in Portsmouth Herald, Op-Ed Sunday Edition

The green season within

While most of the world prepares to stretch its limbs into this season of new growth, baby buds and birds, there is a small portion of the population that wants to stay in hibernation mode.

I am part of this group and have found myself resisting this mercurial pull of the season in swing, spring. I can't keep up with the sometimes schizophrenic rainy-then-sunny-warm-then-freezing weather or the formerly browns and grays turning to bursts of color. For some of us, "Spring Fever" is about more than updating the old wardrobe to include the color pink.

In fact, for some folks it's like the shock of a black and white movie that's been colorized - it seems like a shiny distraction; surreal somehow.

We've become married to our beds and lethargy alternates with an existential restlessness.

Don't get me wrong, I used to love to see the first bold crocus peep through the snow and announce Mother Nature's triumph over Father Winter. It was as thrilling for me to see a robin or cardinal as it is comforting today to sink into the tender embrace of soft, freshly washed cotton sheets. What's changed?

Perhaps as we grow older we are less attuned to the subtle nuances of our own bodies and the seasons therefore creep up on us and smack us in the face rather than evolving in natural rhythms like ocean waves swelling, crashing and receding. I hate to complain because it's something every New Englander looks forward to — the end of dreaded winter.

Besides an ending to salty cars and wind-frozen faces, we crave the subsequent onset of new hope. We usually thrill with every verdant shade of green in Monet's palette displayed as a balm to soothe away the winter chill - inviting warmth into every pore on our pale, exposed winter skin. But not always ...

I miss the feeling of joy, the twinges and heart-skips that spring once brought. I listen to Vivaldi and can't help but feel as though he was truly tapped into what we all want to feel. But then I wonder - how did he sustain that feeling in his daily life? Is it even possible? And if possible - is it desirable?

We've all been raised to pursue our happiness and run far and fast from misery. Why is misery any less valid than its joyful counterparts? In the broad spectrum of human emotion are we not admittedly complex creatures ever seeking the elusive moments that were a regular occurrence before the world began stepping on our toes and bruising our hearts? Jung believed that through long, dark nights of the soul came tremendous growth, wisdom and compassion for others who are also struggling.

Lost opportunities, job disappointments, broken hearts and harsh words are realities of our everyday lives and yet we are told countless times to "Get over it - don't wallow," "Put on a happy face," "Just smile," or "Count your blessings."
It's as though sadness were a contagious disease and people seem to often fear it more than cancer. It's an unseen enemy that cannot be battled with visible, tangible weapons alone. The only time-proven semi-cure for it is time itself. They do say it heals all wounds, but first you have to find, name, feel and then heal. It's a process involving the grief and anger we feel over losses, betrayals and disappointments over the rapidly spreading sentiment and bewilderment accompanying "When did it all become so hard?"

Spring can't cure such deep wells of stifled pain. It would be unfair to expect it to even scratch the surface. It can bring fleeting moments and reminders of seeds planted with a distant promise of bloom. It may be an autumn bloom or even appear in the dead of winter, is the green season within that reflects in our eyes, the light in our cheeks and in our bearing and ease with self.

That's the spring I'm looking for. The rest of it is just window dressing.

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