March is full of longing in Michigan. First tastes of spring, final throes of winter, and enough tension to wonder if the world will ever feel alive again. You’d think the sunlight on deadened branches would bring hope, but sometimes it feels as though it only highlights how empty and barren everything feels.
March 1st, I leapt out of bed. The weekend had been bright and the month of “arrival” had finally begun. I poured a piping hot cup of coffee and turned to take in the fresh landscape that certainly would herald spring. Except it didn’t.
Snow had been falling all night. Far beneath me, men and women were frantically brushing off their buried cars, stamping their feet, doing odd little jigs to keep warm as they took all of the needed precautions to leave for work.
“Oh,” my shoulders slumped. “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.” I then proceeded to move about in a depressed state, pulling out my down vest, lacing up snow boots and tucking my hair up in a knitted cap, all to wrap me away from the frigid world yet again as I prepared to trek to work.
Naturally, I’m a pretty bubbly person. Joy is a constant percolating force inside of me. Friends joke about it, colleagues comment on it, strangers have laughed at me as they’ve born witness to the exuberance on trains, at a brewery high top table or making a purchase at a store that will be “the perfect gift!!!”
But what happens to joy when it’s disappointed? When everything goes south and life is suddenly not at all the way it was supposed to be?
For me, I find I have to face the death directly. I bundle myself up, prepare for the cold and try to meet it bravely.
The bravery is for standing against my own inner critic and for comforting my own damaged heart. I have to own and engage both. When I face death, even if it is just the death of something I imagined, sometimes it seems the only thing to feel is: I’ve been hurt. I’ve been fooled, or worse, foolish. And I’ve been betrayed by the light inside of me.
This is what I believe: if that voice gets all the power, I never get to hope again in spring. Because spring now comes with qualifiers and alarm bells. Spring requires control and “testing” people to prove their worth. Spring means anxiety for my own desire and delight, because those two things are where all the trouble started.
I don’t want to hold myself that way. I don’t want to hold the people who’ve hurt me or the people who could hurt me that way either.
It’s March. It’s the month of waiting. First tastes of spring, final throes of winter, and enough tension to wonder if my heart feels alive again. Who I am this month is important. How I hold myself here in the in between matters. Because March, like every hope worth having and like every road to joy, comes with steps forward and steps that move backward.
It comes with familiar fears that the winter might not end. It comes with easy hatred for what is light and resilient and lovely in me. And I get to choose how I hold my heart in this space before arrival.
“You are gorgeous,” I can say, “You are courageous as you feel afraid. Your longing is welcome here,” I can affirm. And as I keep waiting and bundling for the snows that blow, I can keep my heart warm and hold it softly, ready for the moment when down vests and snow boots aren’t needed in order to tread where I long to go.
Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world. She’s a 26 year old, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called The Someday Writings, and someday, she may let those writings see the light of day. For now, she shares her thoughts here.