By Cathi Gerhard
“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything” – William Shakespeare
I have never felt so old and tired as I did this winter, the one that seemed to last forever. I spent weeks not wanting to get out of my warm bed each day – the cold, dark and dreary skies encouraging my semi-coma.
The biting cold and lack of regular activity made my joints stiff and achy, which fed my weary state and left me constantly tired. Each day, if I dressed at all (because pyjamas are warm and cozy), my go-to item was one of my many pairs of stretchy pants – or as our generation more fashionably styles them, yoga pants. Not only are they comfortable, but they also help one manage the 10-20 pounds of extra seasonal insulation we tend to acquire.
The long winter of such discontent also brought about my first patches of grey hair, too, framing my face with a dull, white haze. The emerging streaks go pretty well with my new reading glasses, which many magazine articles tend to call “one of the ten things that make you look older.” Really? So what. I AM older now, and I think it is far worse to hide it – or rather pretend to be younger like a “Real Housewife of Beverly Hills” with too much plastic surgery, make-up and junior-sized clothing. I went through a short spell of such fashion disillusionment in my 30s, but quickly came to my senses. Going against the grains of nature is simply destructive.
All living creatures on earth follow the rhythms of life; but somehow humans have lost their way. Because of technology we now live “despite” nature instead of along with it. We control our climate indoors, like a science fiction bubble, and treat every day as equal. Medical science has invented youth serums, treatments and surgeries to change practically every-thing natural about us – all designed to fight time, which is still out of our control.
But youth is not just a fleeting period in our past – it is a spirit. Last week brought some quick samples of warmer weather, and with each burst I felt the rejuvenating power of the Spring sunshine. No vitamin D supplement can even compare to that feeling of the real thing. Suddenly I had enough energy to take a walk, and endorphins flowed to mask my back pain better than any narcotic. I no longer craved the comforting taste of carbohydrates, but rather the juicy flavors of fruits and vegetables. It felt so good, I wanted to dance and sing!
Poets throughout history have written the lyrics to nature’s songs about new life, and its promise of re-birth. Just when we start to feel worn out, and mostly dead inside, life draws upon that forced period of dormancy to re-energize a new season. We are a part of that cycle, no matter how much we try to deviate from it. In winter we may not hibernate, but we could all use a long winter’s rest. Cold, rainy days are for soaking up what we need (stay inside: rest, nourishment, and contemplation); warm, sunny days are meant for energy consumption (come out and play: work, activity, and enjoyment).
Consider nature’s simple, visible rewards for a successful cycle: flowers and vegetables in our garden. I love how they look. I love how they make me feel –young. The ongoing search for some fountain of youth is nothing but a fool’s errand, invented by a species that has somehow “evolved” too far from its roots.
Humans have tried to sever all ties with Mother Nature’s dumb “rules and regulations,” behaving like an arrogant teenager who knows it all. We take what we want (SUVs) instead of what we need (4 wheels and a sustain-able power source). But if we wreck her car, there is no insurance to fix it. We need to grow up, age gracefully, and play well with others. Perhaps humans are trapped in this Peter Pan syndrome because we lack patience and faith in the promised spirit of youth, caught instead in a self-spun web of frustration and fear.
This Spring, consider stepping outside of the climate-controlled box by taking a leap of faith into the real world. You might be surprised by how good it feels, inside and out.