Sunday, September 16, 2012

Spring Cleaning


I’ve been doing some Spring Cleaning. It started with my office, which had gotten out of control, then moved to culling clothes and clearing out the laundry room. Spring Cleaning feels good. The feeling of motivation that turns that inner voice from “I really need to,” to “I will.” Then the satisfaction of getting it done. I really love Spring Cleaning.

I imagine some of you are thinking to yourselves, “John, it’s September. It’s turning to Autumn, not Spring. At least not in the hemisphere you are in.”

And I guess you’d be right. But, what I say is true, for me at least. I’ve been doing my Spring Cleaning the past couple weeks. I can’t explain it, and it’s not that I don’t clean or cull in the actual Spring. But there is just something about Autumn. With Autumn comes the right feeling for spring cleaning.

I like Autumn. It is my favorite season. Autumn begins, this year, on September 22nd, but here, in the mid-Atlantic, it started last week. The skies were clear and blue, with a chill each morning when I woke up. I noticed the first suggestion of red on the top of a maple tree.

I like the holidays. I really do. And this year, I’m looking forward to them again. I confess, I do like to dress up on Halloween. And watching the boys with their sacks full of sugary loot is, I hate to say it, kind of cool. Christmas? Well, it is overdone and now signifies all that is wrong with our unsustainable consumerist culture. But I like the story of Christmas: New birth and new hope in the darkest part of the year. I like the songs, and the Grinch, and Charlie Brown, and the smell of a freshly cut pine tree in my house. And between Halloween and Christmas is my favorite: Thanksgiving. I like Thanksgiving the most. For me, still the purest of the holidays. It still means what its name is. Giving thanks, and the love expressed through the sharing of harvest with family and friends. And I like that it is always on a Thursday and we tend to also take off Friday. Our only nearly sanctioned 4-day break.

I like weather. I really like the way the weather changes. Summer’s heat and humidity start relaxing their grip while the faint smell of cooling air and drying leaves fill the air. And those first nervous and exciting days of school. How will it go? Will I like my teachers? Will that girl I flirted with last Spring, that last week of the semester, be in any of my classes this semester? The excitement of football games and parties. And the initial motivation that I’m going to do really well this semester. For real! I’m going to really study and buckle down, not like in the Spring. And I like the new feeling that accompanies all this. An uneasy confidence. Optimism. Starting over.

Strangely this Autumn-feeling ought to belong to Spring, shouldn’t it? That feeling of renewal and newness. Shouldn’t Autumn be a time for finishing, for preparing for that harvest, for shutting down for the cold and dark of winter? But it doesn’t work that way.  Not for me, at least. I imagine it is something socialized over the years with how we’ve set up our school calendar. A calendar, by design, to allow for the needs of the land and the farm to operate by its seasons.

Perhaps had I lived on a farm, and now lived in real connection with Earth would my emotional seasons match better her real seasons. But modern society with school and work through the colder months, and vacation in the summer, has reversed this.  I’m not saying this is wrong or bad; it’s just an observation. But for those of us in the developed world the need to align the academic calendar opposite the agricultural calendar is no longer so relevant.  We could shift all this if we wanted to. I wonder what that would be like? I wonder what life would be like the other way around: Working and learning though the warm and bright part of the year and sleeping and relaxing in the cold and dark part of the year. How would that change things? For sure some wouldn’t like it, like those relying on beach tourism to survive. But I wonder what it would be like to live in closer synchrony with Mother Nature? What it would feel like to approach Spring with the feeling of newness and excitement like I do now with Autumn? I wonder what Spring Cleaning feels like in the Spring?

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