Spring Kindness

Winter leaves so much of me dormant.

It’s hard to contend with the fact that all routine and life must go on when the days are so brief and the sun is so weak. It’s hard to contend with being kind to ourselves and others while maintaining our pace when it feels like the earth just wants us to sleep.

Spring makes it easier to forgive.

The warmth of the sun and the length of the days thaws out parts of my heart I’d neglected for months. I move outside, my skin gets sunlight, and life unfurls around me. I’m reminded that I belong somewhere, and that all the bustling in the soil and air belongs here with me. There’s a regret that I let this appreciation for life sleep all winter, but it’s not in the nature of spring to dwell on that regret. I forgive myself for my wasted time.

Enjoying the sun a few weeks ago, I went on a long run. Long runs are a complicated experience. They are simultaneously painful and exhilarating, and each mile is another lesson in how to push myself further, but how to forgive my imperfections. As my grueling run was coming to an end, I was struck by a powerful thought.

I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time being cruel to myself.

Maybe it was the running-induced endorphins, or the sunshine, or both, but I started smiling and crying all at once. I thought of all the times I’ve been so hard on myself, and the ways all that cultivated bitterness seeped out into how I treat others. It’s never served to help me grow, and only stunted opportunities for learning. Cruelty wouldn’t help me finish my run, or find the patience to study for a challenging exam. It was never cruelty that pushed me to explore or learn. I’d mistaken cruelty for determination so many times, and it’s hard to find the energy to change that idea. It’s especially hard to change in the complacency of winter, when following routine takes all the energy I think I have.

I’m so grateful for the healing power of Spring, and that it can remind us that anything can grow if we can trade in kindness for cruelty. I hope that I can remember this even when Winter comes again, and that practicing kindness will carry me through all seasons.

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