Monday, April 19, 2010

Sad as the Coming of Spring

Last Friday, my neighbors who live across the street had a party in the back yard of their new house a few miles away. They had just closed escrow that day. There was no furniture in the house, and it still needs some renovations, but the back yard is big and lovely. We were eating and playing basketball and toasting with champagne, or orange juice for the Mormons and recovering alcoholics. Six or seven kids were running around or making chalk drawings. I sat on a camping chair and looked up at the sky.

Weather changes are subtle but impactful here in Los Angeles, and April has been vacillating between sweater and t-shirt weather, between overcast and gorgeous. Okay, so it's often gorgeous here, but each time, it is different. For instance, just in the last week I noticed that the jacarandas are starting to bloom, and the week before, on the way to the beach, I noticed there were fields of wildflowers where there used to be just tall grass. We have flowers year round, but now they are everywhere.

As I sat looking up at the sky, I was trying to figure out what was so strange about this back yard, and then I realized that it had no power lines running through it. I looked up and saw only blue and tress. It was lovely, and yet, there was something melancholy in it. I was trying to tell the woman sitting next to me that spring is sometimes sad. She thought I was crazy and told me that I need to change my attitude and be happy, and it’s all in the way you look at things.

This frustrated me. I know all that. I am in the mind changing business. I’m a hypnotherapist. I had a hard time communicating to her that I don't hate spring, but she didn't really want to understand what I was saying.

Rilke has a quote somewhere that says “...sad as the growing of boys and the coming of spring.” Whenever I come across it, I just nod. With any transition, even one as lovely as spring, that symbolizes new beginnings, there is always something left behind that makes it bittersweet. I’m not a fan of winter or snow (that’s why I live in Southern California) but even when I lived in snow, spring time still had a tinge of melancholy. Sometimes it meant the end of a school year, or the end of the nightly herbal tea ritual. In Los Angeles it means the end of brilliantly clear skies (our winter skies here are unbelievable). Last Friday it meant that my favorite neighbors would soon be moving.

My daughter is also about to turn four (not till June, but she keeps reminding me) and I am happy she is getting older and not younger (Benjamin Buttons style) but it is also as Rilke said-- sad as the growing of [children] and the coming of spring.

This is, I suppose, the plan of happiness in action. Not only must we feel sadness to appreciate joy, but sometimes, we feel them at the same time.


  1. Reminds me of a poem by Billy Collins called "On Turning Ten"
    Look it up. It'll make you cry and smile all at the same time.
    I understand the melancholy you are talking about.

  2. I know it and love it. And I love that you know that poem.



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