There’s something about springtime that changes me.
It is a time of renewal and transformation – everything is coming alive again. And after a particularly brutal winter (which still can’t seem to make up it’s mind whether it’s coming or going) the effect of spring feels all the more precious to me, in a way it has never felt before having always lived on the sunny southern Californian coast.
But even there in the perpetual sunshine, there was something about spring.
I have been waking up with a feeling of inexplicable joy for about a week now. It is overwhelmingly strong in its power to move me yet I feel frightened by the fragility of this joy, fluttering in my chest like a baby bird.
It is hard to put into words, this feeling. But it doesn’t leave me – it stays and yet I know it is impermanent and will leave me, just like Spring is temporal not static. Spring and Fall. They do not linger like the winter and summer do; they do not drag on and on; no one wishes an end to the soft light of Autumn twilight, or to the bulbs bursting from the ground or the flowering blossoms on the trees, nor the unleaving of a Fall grove.
This feeling though – it always reminds me of childhood. In fact, this joy makes me feel like a kid again; makes me want to dance on the grass and laugh out loud at the jokes in my head; makes me want to write poetry and draw with crayons.
The feeling has come spontaneously at other times, not just at spring. I remember watching the 90s film version of The Secret Garden; I don’t know if it was the green scenery or just a deeper connection to childhood imagination and whimsy, but there was the joy. I remember the first time I watched Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, I was so moved by the imagery, by the young protagonist’s courage and love, and suddenly there was the joy; in my small child’s mind the only to deal with what I was experiencing, this bliss that threatened to overwhelm me was to act out something that seemed like spiritual practice to me – to take a garden rake and draw waves and circles in the sand, mirroring in my way a Zen garden. I must have been ten or eleven.
Earlier in the week, I tried to convey this emotion to a friend of mine over drinks. Swimming in the adult world of one too many drinks, I still felt this inexplicable joy welling inside of me. I struggle with the words to describe it, but in my attempts my friend was able to understand and told me of his own connection to Fall: walking down a narrow West Village street, empty of cars and people, isolated from the noise of busy avenues, he was struck by the sudden realization that the leaves had changed and that the wind swirling around him was real, touching him, the trees, the brick walls of the buildings, the concrete sidewalk. And that this was actually happening. That this moment was happening now and that he was a part of it, inexplicably a part of it and necessary.
This inexplicable joy – it stayed with me for days and vividly I can remember what it felt like. Often, I used to forget and only would remember when it came again, the few times it did before. And each experience was like the first, each experience was like light and joy sitting in the heart, bursting out of the heart and seeing it in front of you – hearing it, tasting it, touching it. The moment is real and is happening now.
Still, do these words really describe perfectly what I mean? Can they capture the joy I hope I come within a tenth of describing accurately? I don’t know. But I think of it now, and I remember.
In the height of my bliss one day, I went to Washington Square Park where hundreds of people were sitting on the lawns, on the benches, in the fountain watching acrobats and puppeteers, listening to multiple jazz bands and happy conversation with friends, the screams of delighted children playing with the new rope playground. I laid on the grass, my eyes closed, happy in the moment and in my spring dress, my flowered shoes. I recorded the sounds around me (including the sneezes) in order to try and capture that first moment of springtime. I don’t know if it will give you a sense of what I felt that day, but either way, the music is nice.
Has there ever been a moment where you felt inexplicable joy coming from within yourself for seemingly no reason? Was it ever related to some certain time of the year or certain experience? Or has there ever been a moment in your life where words just fail you? Let me know in the comments below.