Growing up in California has its perks. I was surrounded by a generally liberal culture, I ate an amazing year-round selection of locally grown produce and was never too far from the nearest coastline. The people were warm and so was the weather. Even in Northern California, the extent of winter was only a month or two of mild rain. The separation of the seasons was measured by gentle gradients of gray. Change was subtle and calm, to the point of indifference. Everything lasted forever. Plants didn’t die; they shrunk, as if exhaling for the winter. I grew accustomed to a sense of false immortality, an ever-lasting eternal growth. This perpetual continuity kept me sheltered from on of life’s greatest blessings: its cycle.
In other less climate fortunate parts of the country, a temporal consciousness exists. This time-limited offer is measured in months rather than Californian years. Life is taken by the harsh snap of the wintertime cold. Death is observed and understood and, for some, it is even appreciated. The cold months pass with the steadiness of the tortoise, while onlookers peer into the future, calling for the warm rays of the sun. This terrestrial process incites value, gratitude and humility.
The power and strength of nature’s effortless pattern is a miracle to be marveled. Thoreau once said, “Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.” Nature is graced by intention. There is not a moment of aimless action, nor a second of accidental happening. In it lays the perfection of life.
One of the greatest blessings of nature—one I am experiencing at this moment—is the bloom of spring. After winter has released its meditative silence, the dance of life begins. Set to the ballad of the most celestial symphony, the motion of spring reminds us of the splendor of creation. In its ease of return, our discomforts are soothed. Life begins again.
Yet, even with the joys of birth, we are never released from the awareness of the cycle. The looming seasons will surely repeat their pattern, leaving the recently bloomed daffodil no more than a rotted carapace. This understanding is essential to living a purposeful life. This awareness of temporality intensifies gratitude and promotes being. Only in the present can I fully enjoy the daffodil, for if I venture into the future, the flower’s demise will taint my experience. It is by this constant patterning that nature inspires full awareness of the present, bringing us into a state of supreme bliss.
Currently, every corner of New York is filled with scenes of blooming life. Everywhere, people and nature alike are taking the first deep inhalations of the season, expanding their presence and enjoying the moment. Spring is a celebrated event that transforms the city. Grumpy New Yorkers become gazing naturalists. Fast-paced business types are suddenly found strolling the streets. Speeding cab drivers…well they still speed. But the world has changed and for an instant, we become attuned to the consciousness of the natural world. Through its effortless, patterned pace, we become aware of the gift of life.