I am struck this month by the newness of spring.
I live in this simple and lovely little 1940’s farmhouse in South Carolina. There are windows on all 4 sides of my home and gazing out any one of them will give me a view that clearly reflects the seasons - which is a delightful change from the ground-level, street facing Seattle apartment I lived in for the last 10 years of my life. Now, I have the pleasure of seeing lush greenery in the summer, bright colored leaves in the fall, barren, gnarled branches in the winter, and bright pink blossoms in the spring.
I have this little screen porch where I am blessed to sit and do work from time to time. I love that I can feel the breeze on my face, hear the birds chirping, and on less perfect days, even listen to the torrential rains falling just beside me on the other side of the screen. (There is nothing like a loud, heavy, South Carolina spring rain to make you feel brand new again.)
This month, I keep coming back to this tiny spark of an idea about hope. Hope that physically comes to the earth with the newness of spring and the sense of renewal echoed in the religious traditions of Passover and Easter. Winter has wiped the slate clean; everything looks as though it is dead but, in reality, it is just dormant, waiting for a fertile moment to bloom again as if for the first time.
Unlike the earth, we don’t get to wipe our slates clean in life. Relationships get ruptured, words are spoken, mistakes are made. We almost always have the opportunity to repair things and try again, but it isn’t as if our faux pas never happened. Relationships and our own memories bear the imperfections of our pasts; there is no such thing as a real-life Etch-a-sketch.
I am a true believer in the courage it takes to own our mistakes and imperfections, confront them, repair them, and move forward. But I confess letting go of past transgressions is not my strong point.
Troy and I spend so much of our personal time talking about the dojo and our students there. This is partially out of necessity, partially out of having poor work/life boundaries and balance, and partially because the work we do together is a passion for both of us - something that fills our need to do work that is meaningful and impactful in the world. No matter how much we may differ, I never cease to be in awe of him and his way with children.
“The thing about being a good instructor is you have to know when to put your foot down and when you need to be playful or lenient. And once you put your foot down and discipline a kid, you have to be able to let him rejoin the class like he’s brand new. With a clean slate. You can’t hold grudges against kids. Ever. You have to just let it go.”
He said this to me once and it has stayed with me both because it is true, and also because it is something I could always get better at. Teaching children and the practice of martial arts both require the ability to look with fresh new eyes upon something you have seen a million times. This way, you can let go of the past and make way for the blossoming, ever emerging present... and future.