Spring’s Promise

It’s that time of year when we’re all antsy to get outside, change into t-shirts and shorts, and embrace our inner go-barefoot desires. Each seasonal shift has its abruptness, but winter-into-spring is special. Even for a winter lover like me, right now it’s an overstayed house guest whose every little nuance has become irritating and I’m ready for it to leave.

Like any power who knows its hold on us, winter teases wickedly during March. One day it’s sunny and 70F, and the next cold and dreary. If winter’s really bored, we’ll often get a short-lived late snowstorm. I can imagine winter’s glee about this time of year as it conjures abrupt weather shifts to keep us puny humans guessing.

But we who have cycled through many of these seasonalities know the irrevocable signs that spring is near: frisky squirrels and chipmunks seeking love, hyperactive birds, and the slow, deliberate emergence of flowers, plants, tree buds, and green grass. We also know it’s a tag-you’re-it game played best with patience earned from being here before.

I’m defiantly siting in my back open patio as I write this, bundled to negate the mid-40F temps. A mere 16 hours ago I sat in the same place but in sunny and rejuvenating 70F pleasure. No lily white skin exposed yet by wearing pairs of “do they still fit” shorts from last summer, but then, I’m always slow to foist my winter tan-loss onto the world.

I’m ready to bid adieu to winter but will again welcome its promise of renewal and restoration at the end of this year. In this annual waiting game, patience is key as Mr. Winter hands the seasonal baton to Miss Spring. She’ll once more bring her promised, ideal weather for outside sitting, pondering, hiking, and being warm again. Can’t get here soon enough.

SPRING’S PROMISE (poem in draft)

The sun shines
its healing rays
through thinned clouds
or crystal skies.

Early, some say
since winter’s grace
is too recent
in memory and bones.

Tell that to the
squirrels out rustling
in the leaves
chasing for love.

Or the chipmunks,
bolder than later,
on high perches
calling for love.

And the flowers,
breaking the seal
of hardened ground
to reach the light.

Eager to leave
those faded days,
I’m ready again
for spring’s promise.

Silent Mentors

The traditional approach to excelling at anything involves learning from someone who’s where you want to be. If it’s a creative goal, it’s from those who’ve achieved success and share expertise through explanatory mediums or via their work.

In past times, one gained a skill or craft by apprenticing with a master. Often this was a slow process, lasting years or decades before the apprentice becomes independent and on their way to becoming a master. While such arrangements still exist for some skills or trades, a creative’s path today beyond formal schooling involves finding a formal or informal mentor to work under.

While some are fortunate to find a formal mentor to work with, there is still great value from the informal path. I have several silent mentors I follow to learn from informally since of course they have no clue I even exist. Even though it’s a one-way association, it’s still beneficial for me to improve in areas I’m pursuing.

On things philosophical, I read Ryan Holiday’s writings. His book The Daily Stoic (Amazon link, but please buy from your local indie bookshop) is one of my morning rituals that helps keep me grounded. In these pandemic times, I credit this silent mentor for my renewed ability to focus on things I can control while staying detached and insulated from those I cannot.

On things literary, my learning path is broader with a coven of writers I glean wisdom and practices from. My primary informal writing mentors (by no means all I learn from) are currently Mary Oliver, Mary Ruefle, David Whyte, plus self-paced courses from Diane Lockwood. It’s no coincidence that these are primarily poets.

Early in my adult life I believed that once one mastered something, learning stopped and only doing continued. How wrong I was. Through later experiences in meeting and knowing many who were masters at various endeavors did I learn they all had at least one thing in common: they never stopped learning, whether from their mentors or from mentoring others. Every master likely also has a mentor, and every professional at anything is constantly learning from someone else.

If you want to improve or excel in a life pursuit—doesn’t matter what it is—find a formal mentor if you can, but otherwise choose some informal ones. In time, you’ll be skilled enough to pass on the favor by mentoring someone else.

The Wind In My Sail

Arise each morning from a good night’s rest,
to work the early zone, my creative’s best.

Start each day well-fed, well-meant,
and every hour embrace each moment.

Write daily to exercise thought and illuminate places
in dark corners and untapped graces.

Be physical daily without convenient excuses,
through walks and exercises and declared truces.

Embrace an attitude that consistently attracts
questioning of conclusions and opinions posing as facts.

Read deeply, with comfort zones at bay,
to stick this habit do so every day.

Eat wisely and choose plants the most,
organic of course, but be humble, don’t boast.

Be a caring parent, a better friend,
but mostly a better listener to the end.

Tolerate one, tolerate all, and remember to forgive
myself and them, for this is the best gift I can give.

Stay the course and I’ll succeed without fail,
if these be the winds that fill my sail.

Winter

Winter

I fear the cold
The kind that’s deep;
Preserves or kills,
While fast asleep.

Yet as the snow
Settles from the sky,
My mind finds peace
Without knowing why.

Pure white innocence
Lingering pleasantly,
Is but a ruse
To fool us presently.

The wind that’s harsh
Is a prick of pain,
Those long, choking fingers
Of the ice king’s reign.

This field of beauty
A joyful moment,
Blinks life to death,
A shock, a torment.

Yet winter’s renewing grace,
Its universal task,
Revives us all,
If we wear its mask.