Bittersweet Spring

Every spring I live on the razor’s edge of pleasure and pain. The beauty slays me, literally takes my breath away, then leaves me with a hollow space in my soul as I touch its fleeting reality. These apple blossoms only bloom for a few weeks and then they fly away on a sudden wind. I shudder at the beauty of the plum trees, a vision of gorgeousness, but ache at the knowledge that they will soon be gone. Life is a change. It’s the core of my work and still I struggle to accept it.

There are certain stages of my children’s lives that illicit this same response. There are days when my kids are so precious and beautiful and sweet that I want to stop time and immortalize them into this moment. The beauty is so immense that it hurts, and my husband and I turn to each other and say, “Look,” and then, “It’s passing by too quickly.” Our smiles are bittersweet because we know that each moment is fleeting, and wasn’t it just yesterday that our six year old was lying on my chest, golden-haired and pure as light? And it seems that I can already see the day when my two year old, who sits on my lap each evening at dinner as delicious as a dumpling, will be as tall as my husband.

Perhaps this is part of the reason why I’m so passionate about transitions: they’re the high points of life, times when life is distilled into its essentials and the non-essentials fall away. As such, we have an opportunity to touch the highest places in ourselves and our loved ones. It’s why we grieve after the wedding day and long to retrieve its perfection. It’s why we mourn the loss of pregnancy, for even with its challenges it’s still a time in life when we’re transported to another reality.

I believe that our cultural obsession with blogging and scrapbooking is our feeble human attempt at capturing and immortalizing the ephemeral nature of life. We simply cannot accept that each moment passes through our fingers like sand, so we photograph it and write about it and stick it behind filmy plastic sheets atop sticky magnetic paper. I’m as guilty of this attempt as the next person, and I must admit that one reason why I write this blog is to document the shifts and cycles of my family. Does it work? In a sense it does. But how many moments comprise a single day and how many of those moments can I capture? A tiny sliver. The rest I must breathe into and accept that it’s gone, like that one precious moment when my two year old cherub wobbled down the hallway and said, “I’m a penguin!” is gone. It lives in my memory, but even that inevitably fades with time. We simply cannot videotape or photograph our entire lives; there is only one sane response: breathe and accept.

Spring is fresh and fleeting, like childhood. When I can revel in the blissful moments and accept their temporality  they move through me and bubble into a state of pure joy. It’s only when I resist accepting this truth of life that the joy is accompanied by ache. There are seasons of our lives, delicious high points and times of darkness and struggle. A life well-lived means passionately embracing each season, each day, each moment while simultaneously practicing the art of letting go.