Sometimes this means the rain lingers until mid-July. Grey hangs heavy on the city, clinging to building corners, closing in on the streets, swirling down on pedestrians and dogs until both escape into Starbucks, Tullys, [insert independently owned coffee shop name here] to forget the sky in alternative milk lattes and scones. In these years, the temperature slowly creeps from 40 to 60 degrees. This gradual change goes unnoticed by most as it is hidden by clouds, marine winds, and predictably constant precipitation. Sometimes it stays this way until July, when residents collectively plan a mass exodus south to California. Seattle is not for the weak at heart.
Fortunately, Seattle has sprung into an off year. Last week was mid-May. Last week hit 80 degrees over the weekend. Pedestrians and dogs stumbled into Eden like parks, high on sunshine and Vitamin D, claiming that here - Seattle in the Spring - is paradise on Earth. How quickly we are to forget. How quickly to forgive a weather system that would have us all strung out on caffeine, vitamin supplements, and anti-depressants just to get through an eight-to-five work day. Being native to Washington, I pull on my shorts and tank tops with the rest. However, I remain distant from the hope that summer has finally arrived. I emotionally prepare for the heartbreak of the inevitable returned rain. Seattle Spring is a fickle lover.
I took my lunch break at 9:30 this morning. I had been at work for 20 minutes and was struggling to pull my thoughts into an order that resembled something more organized that a bowl of tangled spaghetti noodles. If my thoughts stopped making sense to me, how was I going to convincingly portray their meaning to co-workers? Rather than serve out a bland mess of gibberish at my upcoming meetings, I took immediate intervention and left my work for coffee and a morning stroll through the park, justified by my promise of productivity once I returned.
At one point during my walk (eyes finally opened by coffee consumption), I passed underneath a tree making an impressive display of spring, covered in purple blossoms that looked like snap dragons. I picked up one of the blossoms from the ground, convinced that something so beautiful and abundant must smell like a weed. But it didn't. It smelled sweet, delicious, fresh. Floral, but not overwhelmingly strong. Sweet, but not sickeningly so. How can it be that on a beautifully sunny day in Seattle, a large tree is covered with purple blossoms and smelling like nectar? Is it right to have so much good in one place? Is the existence of this tree, on this spring day, withdrawing too much from the invisible bank of goodness? Will the universe turn against this display of indulgence?
With my hands cupped around the blossom, I breathed in the scent to see if I could use it up. Could this scent grow sour or bitter after being smelled. It didn't, but I was so lost in the moment and my thoughts that I didn't notice a car backing up toward me, only three feet away. I noticed the car and the driver noticed me and we both agreed to stop our current trajectory and avoid catastrophe for another day. However, being an odd person tilted toward eccentric behavior and thoughts (and now an odd person struggling with the meaning of death in life after my uncle's passing), I continued the scenario out in my head and visualized my own death. The car backed into me (in my head) and I was left broken and dying on the pavement. Blossom still in my hand, I bring it to my nose to smell it's perfume while life leaves my body. In this scenario, would the scent grow sour or bitter? Would the experience change if I knew that this was the scent of death? It didn't; it remained the same: sweet, fresh, fragrant, light. The universe doesn't seem to care about made up death scenarios when parceling out scent. The blossom still smelled beautiful, even to the not yet existent dying me (in my head). Stubborn and stoic, this blossom with it's beauty and scent. Stoic in it's indifference to the happenings of the world around it; stubborn in its unwillingness to compromise a good existence with something more accommodating.
The whole experience of the blossom, the tree, the sun and spring reminded me of a little quip my friend mentioned while we were hiking last weekend: "Happy. Thank you. More please." When you are given something that is good, you acknowledge the fact that you are happy. Thank the universe for sending you such a wonderful something your way. Meanwhile, let it know that if more of the same should find its way into your life, you would be ecstatic to accept it. Previously, I would view this acceptance and acknowledgement of something good as opening myself up to unnecessary pain when it decides to leave. There is vulnerability in happiness, if you are always preparing for the misery. I couldn't get to the point of contentment and thankfulness, I was too scared at the fleeting nature of the moment. And so it would leave, just like I knew it always would, and I would be back wallowing in misery even though I never left that misery when things were good. I was holding the spring blossom to my nose, searching for the bitter scent of death. Could I just let it be a blossom, on a sunny day?
The pull of death in the fall usually spurs me on toward crazy. The trees are so beautiful that my eyes tear up and hurt when I look at them. The world is dying, giving itself up to some place where I cannot follow. Thrown into the grey of winter, I would despair that this now, this is the last moment of beauty I will every see. I died along with the world, or at least wished that I could die with the world. Sadly, it took me 29 years to fully understand spring; to fully believe the fact (obvious to most) that ultimately, life not only follows the death of winter, but follows it abundantly. I can look at a tree, thick and fragrant with purple and rejoice in the existence of the tree, abundantly good. I can say yes I am happy, thank you for this beautiful gift during my stolen morning walk, and please don't hesitate to send me more. If it is sun that follows, I'll repeat the mantra again. If it is rain, well... I'll enjoy the sound of the water on the roof and windows.
I now have facts of which I believe with full and unabashedly assured faith: Spring follows winter. When the night is tired of the dark, dawn will break over the mountains. Rebirth can, if we are looking for it, come out of death.
Happy. Thank you. More Please.
I'm in love with my life right now. It is abundantly good.