No matter how much one may prepare and brace for Spring, no matter how much one may long for it and expect it, the onslaught of LIGHT and sun and longer days takes us by surprise. Every single year, around the end of April or beginning of May (here in Central New York, that is) it sneaks up on us. In a good way.
It is easy to become discouraged on those gray, rainy April days, especially after long, cold winters. Kids are antsy. The collective groans at the thought of coats, snow pants, mittens and hats and big, chunky boots get louder and louder. The restlessness is almost unbearable at times. April can be annoying, frankly, full of grumpiness and gloom. No more biting cold mornings and below freezing nights, but still raw and wet and gray days. No more nasty snow storms and horrid driving conditions, but still unpleasant ever-present “cold around the edges” mud and moisture.It’s that “in betweeness” - the seemingly constant rain - that is so frustrating. No snow. No sunshine and blue skies. Just. Rain.
And then, just like that, we have crossed into another universe. Light, sun and Spring. If we don’t pay close attention we miss that crossing! And it is simply wonderful. To watch the world awaken after a deep sleep is priceless. And to witness the awe and amazement of children as they watch the world wake up is other-worldly. An honor, really.
We have all learned to trust that Spring will come. We somehow got the memo at some point in our lives that it’s O.K. to let go. It’s O.K. to surrender to winter’s grip and work with it because it won’t last forever. In fact, it’s in our best interest to embrace such a dark season, and to relax. A more likable, comfortable season is coming.
Just like Earth has seasons it must traverse by simple virtue of being a planet in our solar system, each one of us goes through seasons just by virtue of being humans in this world. Some seasons are more enjoyable than others. But all of them are essential to who we are. The key, it seems, is to believe that life’s winters will pass. The key, it seems, is to hang on and trust and surrender. All at the same time. And that, of course, is easier said than done! Thankfully, we have the option of taking a cue from our surroundings. A cue from Mother Nature. A cue from deep inside us, if we will only listen. If we do choose to look around us and to listen, we will notice that the “in between” phases of life are nothing more than the much needed hydration for the springs and summers yet-to-come. Let’s take that cue and surrender. Let’s trust we’re where we are supposed to be. And let’s encourage our children to do the same.
It is only when we truly surrender that we can see what is truly around us and focus on what truly matters. At OLL our biggest, most life-changing experience is learning to surrender. Kids surrender to their natural inner brain wiring and they play. PLAY. They surrender (without much difficulty, one might add) and they play and explore. And in doing so they unknowingly learn all sorts of incredible lessons and acquire all sorts of invaluable, essential skills. Balancing on logs and on stones in the creek forces muscle fibers to fire and get stronger. Strong muscles make for a strong core and for healthier digestion and immunity. And fewer injuries! Imaginary play encourages new situations and kids try out new things and push new boundaries. They also work out issues and figure out very, very quickly how NOT to do something. Honing such street-smarts (or "nature smarts") essentially guarantees an emotionally healthier individual. While playing, the keen eye of a child notices a new bud, a new leaf, a millepede or an animal skull sparking priceless conversations about anatomy, biology, the plant cycle, how to spell the newly acquired word, and much, much math. Adults also surrender. They surrender because they honestly don’t have much of a choice. But this is a good thing! They surrender because they see their child, all children, filled with renewed awe and strength and determination. And they know, deep down, that they must not mess with that. And they continue to surrender each time they see their child attempt new challenges and try new things and learn all manner of skills and facts and concepts. Adults surrender because they notice their brains begin to re-wire and learn a new way of doing things with their children and, in turn, for themselves.
"... what if we viewed the very reason for our existence as being not about control and security but about surrender. Not to our fears and insecurities but to our sense of what is possible, to the belief that we all have the ability to shape the world as we imagine it, and that our actions reflect this imagined world until it becomes not imagined, but real... And finally: what if we taught our children accordingly?" (from: Home Grown; Ben Hewitt)