With Fresh Eyes

A New Spring

Spring awakens the senses. It is the season of restored growth, the dark and somber months of winter haltingly in retreat. Spring replaces a weariness with a renewed sense of vigor and purpose. The anticipation of warmer months ahead fuels that rejuvenation.

A restlessness inhabits us as we venture from our sedentary ways of the colder season to a more vitalized and active existence with the approach of another summer. The naturalist Edwin Way Teale captured that feeling in his book A Walk Through the Year, by characterizing May as the month of fulfillment.  “May is the time,” he wrote, “when everything seems happening, when life rises to a peak.  May is the time when we rebel most of all against routine, when we want the largest margins to our lives, when we desire to be free of all entangling engagements.”  Ask any student, any teacher, as another school year nears its end, about that restlessness, about that rebellion with routine.

Spring, with its focus on renewal, can also be a time of reflection, reminding us of not just the vitality of life but of its limited being, its fleeting nature.  The yellow Primrose flowers in my front yard that previewed its first blooms in late April will be gone by the end of this month, yet their early, vibrant color trumpeted the beginning, the anticipation, of all that will follow in the weeks ahead.

In the nine months since my heart attack and open-heart bypass surgery, contemplation on such matters has been a frequent visitor at my door.  My health scare last July continues to illuminate moments that seem, for me, now more precious, more vital.  In a previous column reflecting on this second chance that I was given, I wrote of possibilities, of enhanced appreciation of those moments.  I revisit that, as I move through my 67th year, in gratitude of renewed strength and stamina that allow me to again engage in activities and commitments that were temporarily stored away.

Such reflection has evoked a passage penned by our songwriting poet Bruce Springsteen, from his recent Broadway show: “Cause in this life, you make your choices, and you awaken from that youthful spell of immortality where it feels like the road is gonna go on forever.  And you recognize that life is finite, that you’ve got just so much time.  You name the things that will give your life in that time its meaning, its purpose, its fullness, its very reality.”

The recognition and acceptance of our finite existence on this planet can be daunting.  It should, instead, be a defining principle, a motivating force, in our efforts to seek meaningful intentions with family, friends, community.  It should propel us to grab hold of life. To seek out all its possibilities. To approach all things with an inquisitive and open mind.

In a global sense, a purposeful life can be marked as one compelled by compassion and driven by a clear sense of social and planetary responsibility.  A life with meaning, a life that is impactful will then become your legacy, your lasting imprint.

Contact Rich at richmskgn@gmail.com