Spring is a time of tension — the tension between the old world of winter and the new world of summer. The tension between death and rebirth. It is the time of year when new life springs forth from the hard ground. The trees bud, the leaves grow, the flowers bloom, the birds sing. We emerge from our homes to take in the beauty, the warmth, and renewed feelings of connection with one another.
This spring is different. This spring, new life emerges but we must stay secluded. The trees bud, but we must stay inside. The birds sing together, but we must stay apart.
And we don’t know when we can emerge. Easter just passed in muted colors. Soon, Memorial Day and the traditional start of summer, BBQs and picnics will pass us by. The farmers’ market will go unopened. The 4th of July, swimming and water fun, music and theatre in the park will be missed. Celebrating family birthdays, weddings, funerals will be postponed. Will we be permitted any of it? When will it be allowed? When will it be safe?
The irony is that, in this moment, separating ourselves from life is how we demonstrate our connection to it. By physically cutting ourselves off from those we love, we show just how much we love them. By distancing ourselves, we show how close we want to be. This is a time of counterintuitive caring. It can feel like emotional hibernation, hidden inside our caves, huddled for protection, while outside our doors the rest of life — the animals, the plants, the sun, the planet — move through their natural, customary cycles. We are left behind.
One day, it will be safe to emerge. I dream of it now…a hug for my parents. Hearing about our child’s day at school. Walking down the street without gloves and mask. Joining with others in physical space, at the grocery store, at a restaurant, in our work, at our schools. A street festival in our town. All of those mundane, beautiful, precious moments that we so often take for granted…at least for some time, I will treasure them.
And so this moment tempts either nostalgia or anticipation — looking backward or forward to the time when it was or will be different. But this is also a mistake. By reaching out to the past and future, I commit the error that so many of us do at so many points in life…I forsake the present. I miss the beauty, the connection, the love that exists in the here and now. I miss the minutes and hours I can share with my family. I miss the conversations we are lucky enough to enjoy in a virtual space. I miss the slower tempo, the lesser demands of both work and personal life. And at the same time, I must acknowledge that I have the privilege to consider all this because I have kept my job. I can work from home. I have a home.
And still, I try to hold in tension all of these ideas and feelings…being in the strange moment of now, feeling disconnected from the world outside these walls, acknowledging my privilege, remembering the time when I could connect to that world, and looking forward to the time when I can reconnect. These are the tensions that exist in every spring — holding in a single space all of what was, what will be, and what is. Like so many other things, these tensions are heightened in this time. It is a gift from which I can learn if only I allow myself.
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