Spring equinox is here. A day of equal light and dark, the day of transition as the light which has been increasing since winter solstice now overtakes the darkness and continues to expand each day until summer solstice.
I’ve always thought it curious that we start our new year in the northern hemisphere just as winter begins. Winter comes after the seasons of planting, growth, and harvest. Winter is a time of rest, when work is done. Animals hibernate, plants go dormant, and we are sustained by what has been stored up. It seem incompatible with a new start, with a fresh commitment to resolutions. We try to stir ourselves to heightened activity at the exact time our bodies are telling us to be still and quiet, in harmony with nature. Is it any wonder that new year resolutions are so famously hard to maintain?
When would be the best time to start a new year? As I watch the trees begin to bloom, and flowers sprouting from the warming earth, it seems to me that nature says, “Wake up! It’s time to emerge from winter slumber and stretch up toward the increasing light.” And the earth responds. Sap rises, melting snow fills the creeks, bright new leaves unfurl, flowers bloom, birds and animals dance to the music of procreation, farmers plant, spring cleaning commences.
Our bodies perk up, we have more energy, more enthusiasm. To me, spring would be a much more harmonious time to begin a new year, with the beginning of the season of growth. Although I don’t make resolutions anymore, spring awakens within me a willingness to try new things, a curiosity about what surprises and delights life might be about to bestow, a grateful appreciation of the dynamic movement of creation reflected in every breath I breathe.
A new friend recently educated me about the history of calendars, pointing out that there have been calendars which began the new year with the spring. It reminded me that the artificial construct of time that we impose on our days and years has not been at all standard over centuries and cultures. I wonder how the different ways of measuring time and seasons informed a people’s perception of reality. And to the extent that the method of measuring was out of sync with nature’s rhythm, I wonder if that disconnect caused stress and perhaps even affected the physical and mental health of populations.
In any case, I think I will start my new year again, now, on this day of balance and promise. It feels right. So happy new year!
Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!” ~Robin Williams