March on

A few days ago Google photos sent me a little overview of the month of March. Back in January, I made a promise to myself to be more present in my days. To notice them more, so that when I got to the end of another year I wouldn’t feel as if they’d all slipped past me when I wasn’t looking.

I wrote a post at the end of that month in which I looked back over it, which was a way of noticing. The days had been short and some weeks even shorter, but the month looked long in the rearview, when I saw how many good things had actually filled its 31 days.

I meant to do the same at the end of February, but you know how things can go. And here it is nearly the middle of April (or it likely will be by the time I get this posted), but it’s not too late to look back at March. (You can do things like this when you’re making up your own rules as you go.)

I had one really big event in March–a trip with the women of my extended family to my great-grandparents’ first home in Croatia–but the rest of the month was full of a rather ordinary kind of good. The first bulbs poked their heads above ground. I ate a great deep-dish pizza at a library training in Chicago. I got to teach some kids how to use databases. My daughter sent me texts and snapchats that made me laugh. The bulbs grew, and I pulled weeds, and I went for a walk where I took photos of modest little houses for a project I started years ago and will likely never do anything with. I got scared by a spider (which wasn’t exactly good but made me laugh) and ate a great donut and then I took a plane (or three) to Croatia. The bulbs fully bloomed while I was gone.

It was a good month. It’s a good life.

The same day that Google reminded me about my month, I came across this article on living “a mediocre life,” which asks:

“What if I am not cut out for the frantic pace of this society and cannot even begin to keep up? And see so many others with what appears to be boundless energy and stamina but know that I need tons of solitude and calm, an abundance of rest, and swaths of unscheduled time in order to be healthy. Body, spirit, soul healthy. Am I enough?”

Solitude. Rest. Calm. Enough.

I’ve caught myself lately saying, “I’m turning into an old person,” in response to such things as being in bed on a Saturday night at 10:00 or really looking forward to eating German pancakes on Sunday morning at a neighborhood bakery. I say it as if doing such things and/or being an old person is a bad thing. But if healthiness rooted in the presence of small, everyday pleasures–as well as the absence of hangovers, headaches, and drama–is part of being an old or boring or mediocre person, well…bring it on.

We don’t ever ask the bulbs in spring if they are enough, or to be more than they are. We just let them unfurl (or not), and accept that whatever they do is what they were meant to do. We don’t curse the tulips and daffodils for being common or for needing certain conditions to grow. When we see them, we’re just grateful that they’re here, again, both testament and witness to another year, and that we didn’t have to do anything extraordinary to make them bloom.

Lately I’ve been wondering if the way we think of seasons as metaphors for our lives might be all wrong. What if the prime of our life is not summer, but winter? I spent a lot of the past two decades with my head buried, living my way through a lot of short, dark days, doing a whole lot of growing and energy gathering in an underground, crocus-ey sort of way. It was not a bad time, but maybe it was not the summer of my life. Maybe this, right now is the springtime of my life. My mediocre life.

Maybe it’s yours, too?

12 thoughts on “March on

  1. Marian says:

    Beautiful photos, Rita, and I love the passage about not cursing “the tulips and daffodils for being common or for needing certain conditions to grow.” This gives a lovely visualization/metaphor to the readings I’ve been doing about introversion and personality, as well as to the Friday Finds article (on Kate’s blog) about procrastination (as in, there isn’t such a thing, an idea that was echoed in yet another article about laziness that I happened across yesterday). If I believed that the universe told us things, I’d think the universe was telling me something.

    As you already know, I’m a fan of slow, simple, and small. And I think it’s catching on, and is no longer *just* for old or boring or people; I’ve read a few articles that say that millennials are also beginning to choose slow and simple. I think there’s plenty of evidence that shows that we’re actually happier with slow and simple. And besides that, the earth desperately needs us to choose more slow and simple things. If only everyone could see that…

    • Marian says:

      Hmm. I used pointy brackets before “people”β€””insert other insult here”β€”and the phrase and brackets disappeared. The computer must have figured that was code πŸ™‚ . Editor-me is quite annoyed that I now have a typo in my comment!

    • Rita says:

      I know that when we talk/write with each other, we’re mostly preaching to the choir. I’ve been saying for quite a while now that I think “lazy” is a meaningless word. I’ve heard so many teachers use it to describe students, which got me to start really thinking about what lazy means. (Full disclosure: My questions probably really started when my son’s teachers used it to describe him, and it didn’t match what I was seeing at all.) I think there’s probably something different going on underneath the surface of all behaviors we’d label with that word. Same with procrastination, something I struggle with pretty regularly. Or, with struggling to start some things. Taxes, most recently.

      I am also a fan of slow and simple. Just wish I was able to get more of that into my life. The past two weeks, especially, have been the opposite of that–and I’m feeling as if April has slipped by me so far. I think it’s paradoxical–that the fuller our life is, the less we feel we’ve gotten of life. That’s true for me, at least. Maybe that’s why I feel I’m only just now blooming. I’ve only just now realized that.

  2. Kari Wagner Hoban says:

    I just am not evolved enough to think winter is the prime of my life yet lol. But I need to tell you this random thought: my friend has beautiful crocuses and they were in full bloom last week. Then we got seven inches of snow on Sunday and they are gone.
    So winter can kiss my butt.
    Sorry for being so hostile toward winter in the comments section but I feel like you would understand.

    • Rita says:

      I do understand! And you can be hostile in my comment section about winter (and a whole lot of other things, too). If it makes you feel any better, those pretty crocuses of mine got killed by a big rain. πŸ™ But they were pretty while they were here. April’s been all about the tulips, though. I think you need to move someplace with a little less winter.

  3. Kate says:

    This “the month was full of a rather ordinary kind of good” makes me heart so happy. Rather ordinary kind of good is my most favorite kind and I LOVE that you’ve had a month full of it.

    And how I love your crocuses. I bought bulbs last fall and never did manage to get them into the ground. I really am going to have to do better this upcoming fall.

    • Rita says:

      It is my favorite kind, too. Because I’m old and boring πŸ˜‰ I cannot take any credit for the crocuses. The previous owner planted them. I’ve never been much of a bulb person. I’ve been pretty grateful he was, though.

  4. TD says:

    Rita, I love this article that you linked with your post! I love it so much that I shared it with two others. (I hope that is okay to do?).

    This is a lovely post with a fabulous title. It brought me feelings of joy.

    • Rita says:

      Of course you can share! I really liked it, too. I’m glad this little piece of writing brought you joy. Knowing that brings me some.

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