The apple trees are blooming again. Ditto the daffodils; same with the hyacinths. Great thunderclouds of pollen are once more billowing out from every tree on Earth to reconvene in my sinuses. That one #%#!@ dandelion is back to taunt me. The whole showery, flowery refrain of Spring is chirping along with the birds at full tilt. Our hemisphere has wobbled back to face the sun, and all the garden and nature beyond are conspiring to make us believe the world is the same place it was a year ago. As if, from one Spring to the next, nothing really changes. As if starting over was the same as never ending.
But it’s not.
The seasons would have us marvel how they bring us back around each year. How each Spring, the same flowers bloom, the same fledgling birds stumble from their nests. They ask us to trace the line of their circle and cry “Infinity!”, forgetting, of course, as seasons do, that while trees may bloom every year, the same flower never emerges twice. Those are not the same birds fledging; they are just more birds.
We may stagger and spin along with the planet, we may turn our faces to the warmth of the returning sun, but we do not live on the endless line of a circle. Ours is rather the bounded space within, where air and time and luck are not replenished. Once any of these is exhausted, we either stop spinning altogether, or are hurled off to trace another line whose shape we can’t comprehend. Life itself goes on, goes around again, for however many seasons it may, and there is comfort to be found there. But we ourselves have only the one season that is a life.
Because we are not the apple tree, the perennial bearer whose cycles mirror the seasons indefinitely. We do not get another Spring. Each of us is but a single blossom. This is our one chance to unfurl and flower, to sing in scent for the bees, to grow within us whatever fruit may follow and then drop, spent, to ground. None of us knows how long we have on the branch, which perching bird or gust of wind will cast us off. But we do know the season can’t last forever.
One year ago, the sun’s angle in the sky as it dawned outside my window was about the same as it is now. The day would have been as long. But as far as I’m concerned, this is where the resemblance ends. Because one year ago I woke to the news that shuddered up and down my soul and hasn’t stopped since. It shouts from a cave in my chest and runs loose in dreams and idle moments and stolen memories.
My brother is gone.
How could anything be the same, ever again?
No, the world is different now. And in truth, it is so with every passing moment for every person on Earth. So much can change in the space of a heartbeat, in a morning glance towards a phone with suddenly too many messages. How much more becomes strange and unrecognizable from Spring to Spring? No chance realignment of the Earth and its star could change this. No periodic confluence of cherry blossoms and chickadees could reassemble the petals fallen in seasons past.
What these things can do is remind us.
This is our one life, our one and only season here, our one bloom.
So make yours beautiful.