The Rhythms of Spring

By Will Baker

Well, Killington Ski Area closed for the season yesterday. While I had thought that folks were maybe going to be skiing into June this year, on balance, this was a pretty good season for skiing in Vermont. Yes, it snowed and snowed and in some places on those mountains there was twenty feet of the stuff. But, although one can still see white on some mountaintops, thoughts here have turned from skiing to other matters. Folks have put away their boards (skis), and are looking to their gardens, their boats and their vacation schedules.

I do love this time of year. It seems to me that the change of seasons represents a metaphor for life: birth, death and renewal propelled by continuous change. And in spring we see a rebirth and redemption. As they come alive again, those forests of old winter bones, poking starkly from the windswept snow cover become transformed. The birds return and the animals start moving. The sun’s rays regain their intensity, and on a primal level we all become restless.

Of course, the rational mind can tell us exactly what is transpiring. As sentient beings we have the luxury, or curse (depending upon one’s perspective) of being able to detach ourselves from our experiences and analyze what is going on about us. And when necessary, we can do this quite coldly at times. But it seems to me that we would do well to remember that for us, even this detachment represents the act of living. We have our lives to live and busy schedules to attend to. And yes, at times we can even experience a sense of cognitive overload in the face of these responsibilities and commitments. And it seems to me that, in these busy moments, we can sometimes almost forget that we are alive…

There is a woman that I know who actually complains about the birds of spring. She says that, as they go about their morning business, they are too noisy. They wake her up early and disrupt her routine. It seems to me that her words articulate the notion of "other" – that these birds are outside of her life, that they are interlopers. Although on a superficial level, my friend's words make me smile, on a deeper level they sadden me. For I believe that her words represent an arrogance that is endemic to the human condition: our unfortunate habit of attempting to place ourselves outside of a system which, we are part and parcel to.

Science tells us that our universe is a "closed system", and if we believe that this is true, then we also must be a part of this system. Therefore, it seems to me that complaining about the antics of the birds of spring is somewhat akin to being annoyed at one's own heartbeat. And aside from the fact that, by existing within this construct of detachment we might be fooling ourselves, I also believe that we could be missing the opportunity to become actualized. Now gentle reader, please do not misunderstand me. I am not implying that we should revel in the bite of a mosquito or in the spray from a skunk. What I am saying is this: we are part of the natural world, and even though we sometimes act as if we are, we are not merely observers. And there is a rhythm to life, which does impact our lives. And we can analyze the impact of life’s rhythm on us, as we multi-task on other things, but in the end, we should recognize that this act of analysis represents a sort of circular loop. In other words, for us the act of analysis is a part of our lives. And the conclusions that we reach can sometimes effect our future actions, which in turn could change the conclusions reached by further analysis: a circular loop of continuous change.

But what, you might ask, does all of this have to do with snow melting on the Vermont mountain tops and getting ready for summer? Well, I would argue that it has a great deal to do with these things. If our goal is what we teach our children: to be the very best women and men that we can be, then it seems to me that, as we work towards this goal, the only way for us to accomplish this task is to be alive to the maximum degree. And how do we do that? Well, as all good children of the sun, we should stop and smell the roses, or as the case may be, even listen to the morning songbirds.





 (Essay Collection)