Making Peace with What You Can Do

Walking in the early spring air this morning, I got by with a light cotton jacket. Yet the weather remains cool and damp. Green fronds push up from the ground, but the skies are grey. Trees are full of birdsong, though the bare branches appear unchanged since winter.

This almost-spring feels nothing like winter, yet there is no blossoming. As if the earth is saying: This, today, is what I can do. I can bring forth this much, but for now I can go no farther.

And the slow warming is enough. The turning of the seasons is exactly this; nothing more is needed. There is no hurry, no catching up to do. All is sufficient.

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It’s tempting to discount those efforts we are able to make. How do you make peace with the limits of what you can do?

The Practice that Yields Spring

Winter seems endless about now. Even as the days grow longer, the snow piles deeper. With no discernable effect on the temperature, the returning light seems powerless over the season.

Yet exactly the right things are happening to bring life to a frozen landscape, even if the wintry scene appears unfazed. The earth continues its cyclical journey, progressing through the incremental changes that carry us into spring and the miracle of a new season.

But if spring were dependent on human motivation, it might be a different story.

If I committed to a vision and faithfully took a small step toward it every single day, I would want to see something happen. If I had begun a practice at the winter solstice, I would want to see some evidence of change by now. I would suspect I was wasting my time unless I could see some tangible result. Without that, I would probably be tempted to quit.

And then how would spring ever arrive?

I’m asking myself what small steps I need to be taking now. What does springtime look like for you, and what kind of steps might carry you towards it?