Spring arrives with all its hope. It gives us yet another chance - at newness. To some, hope is a fantasy, another distraction from the reality of this moment. This could be argued from many perspectives as a viable ascertain, keeping us vacillating between fear and future imagination of something better, keeping us blindly marching forward leaving an unattended present - a construction made up to keep us lost to illusion. Or, hope might be a courageous act? I kind of like something Brother David Steindl-Rast said, "hope is openness for surprise for that which you cannot imagine". This implies courage to stop controlling, to let life change us, to drop the assumptions of who we think we are, who someone else is, or the certainty of our circumstances. It points us toward developing deep Trust in our ability to meet what emerges and the naturalness of this warm pulsating living system of A body interacting among many other bodies with in the body of society, world, earth, and atmosphere.
Hope is a discipline.
Spring arrives as a reminder of all that is already possible within us given the right conditions to reveal - like a seedling needs certain elements to grow into the capacity of the seed from which it came - light, water, food. There is a pull inside us to start adding those elements, to come out from under the winter covers and start moving. Some people begin new exercise routines, do some spring cleaning, drink cleansing smoothies, begin to 'play' outside - it's all quite natural. Then our aspirations meet reality. This will take energy! This takes determination, consistency, commitment, consideration to all that came before. Reality of the new direction might not feel as good as our imagination assumed in the moment we felt the urge to jump into our 'spring training'.
The moment we determine new direction we are faced with the impact of the other direction we have traveled - new habits reveal pain, old habit promise comfort. The brain is not the least bit interested in 'newness'. It prefers the familiar. It is a history making machine utilizing all past experience to know the present. New = threat. It likes to save energy, quickly puts things together for you so you don't have to think too much. This is all quite fantastic when it's time to get in the car and drive somewhere, you are not spending great amounts of conscious energy trying to remember just how to turn the car on, which foot goes where, what side of the road. Yet, when you first learned it did take that awareness to pay attention repeatedly to learn this new habit that became history from which the brain could rely and, voila! - habit.
Now spring asks for that kind of learning, that kind of awareness, and, I would say, asks for our conscious imagination. We are imagining something all the time, most often what will go wrong, why not deliberately decide to imagine your way into the kind of 'conditions' or elements your 'system' of a body, brain, mind, heart needs to dis-cover the potentiality of your original seed? Now hope becomes a habit of holding in the foreground the imagined wellness in detail and the clarity that this will take effort, energy, engaged committed action.
The newness does not yet have enough rootedness to withstand the winds of worry, of want, of wandering. When we are stressed, overworked, too hungry, angry, tired, or lonely (HALT), the history making machine of a brain will default to well-honed paths of behavior. We need to take time to cultivate - water, feed, nurture, and give light to what it is we want to develop as our new Spring Habit of Health. So too, we need to let go and see what might be different from our assumptions, to be changed by our engagement with this moment, maybe different than what we expected. But unless you decide it, whatever it is specifically for you that you wish to change, is non-negotiable, there will always be something else more important. Be deliberate. Keep remembering. Place one element that you know will help grow you, right there in the foreground of your mind, and in your day.
Now go dare to Hope, to be surprised, "one who is no longer surprised is dead or dying", Rabbi Heschel