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Thinking today about potential — the potential all things start out with, when the future is all hopes and intentions, a glorious blank to be filled, something to be speculated over (and really, truly, it could be anything) — and about how, gradually, time marches on until you look back and there is more behind you than in front. Thinking, too, about how to live in such a way that the result of all that potential, the daily, moment-to-moment reality of life, is where I find my satisfaction, not the speculative wish-dreams.

Because, if I am honest, it’s sad to see those wish-dreams go. It’s hard to move from a time of open-ended potential into a time where all the blanks have been filled in. I have a tendency to miss the early days of everything (college, dating, wedding planning, the newlywed years, early pregnancy) and feel bittersweet to see those plans finally carved into stone and made real, even if that is the proper culmination of all my dreaming.

Still, as CS Lewis said, “there are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” And that is a comfort I cling to.

A small tribute to an ordinary moment: sitting down in a hot car, plastic sunglasses on your head, phone in the cupholder dictating directions, the afternoon a warm, breezy blank, and you feeling so independent and productive, singing along to the radio in the husky voice that is yours to borrow until this cold goes away (it’s not so bad, the cold, could be a lot worse), happy to be one of the people out and about on this bright day, feeling like you did when you were 18, back when walking into a store with your car keys jingling in your hand made you feel so grown up (and you still feel like you’re playing grownup) because you feel as light now as you did back then, just bopping around town like you’re skipping school, plenty of gas in the tank and the sky blue and enough cash in your purse to get coffee after this, if you want, or maybe you’ll return that shower curtain to Target — who knows? (the world is your oyster). One of the many small pleasures of life, the happy energy of an afternoon spent running errands.

 

Dear you,

I don’t know what you have on your plate this week — whether you’re breathing in this fine season or carrying something heavy, whether you are waiting (patiently, endlessly) for something dearly longed for or just struggling with the small but cumulative weight of daily things, longing only for rest. Maybe you’re in a place of searching, looking for some small whisper of assurance that you’re on the right path.

I don’t know what you’re dealing with right now. All I know is that life is a continuous interplay of light and shadow. Like the leaves that spring up seemingly overnight this time of year: fragile green flecks dancing in cold sunlight one day; big, billowy canopies of shade the next. Spring, especially, is a season of contrast: warm and cool, blustery and clear. Some days you sit out on the porch and get a sunburn, some days you have to break out your coat for what you swear will be the last time, dang it.

But is it a good season? Of course. New buds on the trees, the romance of flowers bursting to life on humble street corners, strawberries that are red all the way through, the first long, warm nights… Yes, spring, in all its caprice, is a very good season.

Maybe our own lives are full of the same light and shadow of springtime. I’ve been trying, lately, to see my own struggles as part of a whole picture. Too often, I tend to frame my whole day around what could’ve gone better, as if it’s my job to pick out and categorize everything as good or bad. But real life is a seamless mix of the easy and difficult, of the comfortable and the challenging. Gratitude can help us put the hard things in perspective, but part of finding peace, for me, has been about accepting the difficult times as part of a very good season, not something to be avoided or lamented.

Maybe (just maybe) something is busy coming to life right now, and if you only knew what it was, you’d welcome every shadowy moment of the process.

Now go buy yourself some strawberries. They’re in season, and they are absolutely delicious.

– Mel