Twenty Springs

2 05 2021

I found the bench of no regrets on a walk a short while ago. Here as I took a break to breathe in the warmth of the sun and tune in to the birds, I remembered my friend’s observation that if we were lucky we had ‘twenty springs left to live.’

Twenty springs is a finite amount of time. A stretch of seasons that will take me to my final years. If I must live these years with no regrets, I must make every spring count. The question of how I might do this has preoccupied my thinking on my walks.

Twenty springs will age everything I love. My brother would have been 55 this May Day had he lived to see this spring. Inevitably, there will be other losses, sadness and grief flowing through my springs. The bench of no regrets will remind me to keep living each spring with surprise and equanimity no matter what arrives.

The blossom will remind me to keep things fresh. To resist becoming stale or so stuck I cannot move. The blossom will remind me that all beauty fades and all life decays. The blossom falling into the water from the cherry tree reminds me to capture the moment. To resist closing my heart or mind and look more closely instead.

I wonder whether the horses will travel with me through twenty more springs? As spring foals, they mark their 20th spring next year. They could both live until they are 40. What a privilege and joy it would be to share more time with them. To grow old together.

Of course I cannot know that I will have the gift of this time, yet simply imagining it has inspired me to view this spring differently. I’m counting it as the first spring. The first spring I have dedicated to the start of something intentional.

Small wonders are happening. As I’m slowing down to savour the spring mornings, animals and birds are less inclined to leave. A young heron stood near my knee fishing, ducks slept in the early morning sun, beaks tucked under wings and stayed asleep as I tiptoed around them with the hound. A robin stood above my head and looked in my eyes and sang. This morning the seagulls were silent and from the cool quiet, I heard the call of a cuckoo.

I’m reading Carl Jung on Nature, Technology and Modern Life and this short passage leapt from the page like a silver fish. Here Jung has retreated to a sanctuary he built from stone by hand and reflecting on his life.

Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away – an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilisations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost the sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.

Carl Jung: Prologue to Memories, Dreams and Reflections.

In a few weeks, my first ephemeral spring will give way to summer and I will remember it like a friend. There has been so much to take care of this spring to prepare for groups to visit the horses and it would be so easy to get caught up in the details. The horses are ready, though. And in knowing this spring, so am I.

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