Spring Emergence (& Irritation)

IMG_7998.JPGA friend furrows her brow. “I made it through winter,” she says. “I did so well this year. But suddenly, I feel like I’m totally falling apart. Like, isn’t spring supposed to be flowery? Shouldn’t this be the easy part?” We laugh at this, that anything might be the easy part.

For the clients I see in my office, spring is second only to the holiday season in terms of sheer angst and discomfort. When the sun breaks through and the first blush of green spreads across the lawn, what many of us feel is less relief than whirring, chafing frustration. There can be a jarring dissonance between how we think we should feel (birds! flowers!) and what we do feel (blargh, go away).

In Chinese medicine, spring is the season of anger. Consider how transformative this energetic can be: It’s anger that propels a seed into a sprout, anger that organizes for justice, anger that speaks truth. But until it’s rooted, anger can also feel like irritation. If you are waking up at night, if you are feeling too fast or slow, if you are both overwhelmed and underwhelmed… you’re right on time.

I’ve written about this mud season of the soul before, a time that melts away what’s been covered and demands we see. As tempting as it is to look away or act as if things are fine, we might try pausing, actually feeling our own annoyance. Sometimes growth isn’t a fairy-leap over a rainbow but a furious awakening that this feels too small. The structures don’t line up, the form has to change. This is the discomfort that precedes becoming. We wish we could skip over this part, but it’s also the compass that guides us to what comes next.

Please note! A few spaces remain in our upcoming Qoya + Embodied Writing afternoon retreat on Saturday, April 13th from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Learn more and register here.

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Mud Season of the Soul

“I will wax romantic about spring and its splendors in a moment, but first there is a hard truth to be told: before spring becomes beautiful, it is plug ugly, nothing but mud and muck. I have walked in the early spring through fields that will suck your boots off, a world so wet and woeful it makes you yearn for the return of ice. But in that muddy mess, the conditions for rebirth are being created.” — Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

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Spring, that season of greeting card sweetness and abundance, starts out with some real ick. I wish I were speaking in metaphors here. When the snowbanks melt, there is sand, sticks, dirty old plastic bags. And those are the sightly bits. All of our garbage is suddenly visible.

It is the season we in New England call: Mud.

And so, when the detritus appears, we rake, clear, cut. We regard what’s been underneath the whole time. And because we know that the chaos of growth is coming, this is the season to survey the bones. To look out and ask, What do I have here? What are the shapes of the structures underneath, revealed now in their nakedness?

For me, this is a ripe time for looking at old habits and patterns.

– Where and how do I move through my days?
– What space have I created for being creative?
– What are the dry wells that need to be capped, those toxic thoughts (and connections) that send me spinning?
– How do I serve the people and places I love, up to and including myself?

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Early spring feels like the season for these stark questions. It offers a kind of invitation to burn the bracken in the early bonfire, to set out the seed trays, empty the shelves. The act of tending to what is here – even when it’s muck-covered and colorless – sends out a kind of secret faith that growth is coming. Despite the evidence, despite the pace.

I try (as much as possible, which sometimes is not at all) to honor this dank and ugly place that always precedes the season of becoming.  Because in mud season, everything we see is unformed, embryonic in its potentiality. Just, you know, not much to look at.

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