A long time ago (in my lifetime) a Drill Sergeant told me that every day I woke up above dirt was a good day. It was hard for me to appreciate that when I was cold, tired and miserable doing morning exercises and preparing for a run in the rain. After some years I realized that even such a morning was better than the option: being beneath the dirt in a coffin. “Above Dirt” took on a new meaning for me; so much so that I wrote a book (with the help of a gentleman named Steve Forgues) called “Above Dirt: Motivational Thoughts Supporting A Positive Outlook.” (http://amzn.to/wIhKaT) This morning (as I type this it’s April 2017) I had opportunity to have conversation with a gentleman who is facing some challenges in his life. His statement was, “I just wish I could skip the days until this was over.” I was relieved that he didn’t just want life to end but confused by his desire to skip days… to essentially give up time until his current challenges pass. To me, every day is a blessing, even if the day is full of challenges. Challenges come and go, but life is only ours to enjoy for a given time – and none of us knows how much time that is. Much like nature which faces cyclical challenges but comes back every spring: stronger, healthier, bigger and reinvigorated.
It’s spring time in the mid-Atlantic region. I like to have my windows open because I far prefer the fresh air to filtered inside air. I live about a half mile from the Chesapeake Bay so there’s an almost constant breeze that brings a variety of smells varying from something ocean-like to something forest-like. I like waking up to bird song. I like the smell of the rain and the sound of thunder (to some extent). If there’s anything I’m not deeply appreciative of, it’s the yellow/green fine dust we call pollen that goes everywhere, coats everything and in general makes a lot of people feel miserable. Thankfully, I don’t have allergies so it doesn’t affect me and – as a friend observed – it’s therefore easier for me to maintain a positive outlook about spring in general.
Still, summer, winter, spring or fall, I appreciate each day as much as I can for the opportunities and challenges it might bring. While we all appreciate opportunity, many of us try to avoid challenges. I do my best to appreciate them. After all, we don’t grow stronger if we always do what’s easy and convenient. We grow stronger by overcoming obstacles and challenges we THOUGHT we couldn’t handle. In doing so, we grow and increase our ability to handle more and more challenges; we get stronger both in body and spirit and each day continues to improve because the days get easier as we grow stronger.
Spring itself is a lesson in overcoming life’s challenges. For those of you who live in a climate where the winter is cold and snowy (not like you folks on the southern coasts in America), think about how all of nature handles that cold and the shorter days. Nature doesn’t give up. Nature doesn’t die. Nature takes it in stride, adjusts to the climate and saves up energy. The trees, plants and even the grass all are just waiting for enough warm water and sunshine to bloom again. When they do, they show the whole world they have by sprouting and spreading that glorious yellow/green powder I mentioned earlier (pollen). The trees and bushes grow bigger. The grass grows constantly (and we get the joy of exercise while mowing it). After fall and winter, spring is when nature figuratively jumps out of bed, stretches, yawns, gets a cup of coffee and then shows everyone around what they have to deal with.
The cool part is, if you can appreciate the new feeling spring has to offer and share, you can benefit from it as well. As nature grows and reblossoms all around you, you can tap into that energy to reinvigorate yourself. The sunshine is awesome as the days get longer and we absorb more Vitamin D from being out in it. The air – with the exception of that aforementioned pollen) is clean and crisp and free of that closed-up smell our homes can get throughout the course of being closed up all winter. With temperatures more agreeable and even any rain that falls feeling relatively warm, exercising outside becomes a possibility again. Spring’s annual newness offers us a chance to take advantage of a few things that really can help us feel better and be healthier.
A different challenge comes with taking advantage of what spring has to offer: that challenge of aches and pains, soreness, weight loss and more. Challenges? Yes, they all are, and they are the direct result of us doing things that will help us improve our lives both in longevity and quality. They are GOOD challenges as they are proof that we’ve acted in a positive fashion to improve our health, fitness, mindset and vigor. That second day when we go out to exercise we’ll face the challenge of performing to our own set standard in spite of the soreness we experience as a result of yesterday’s work. I say again: That’s a GOOD challenge to have. Feed on it. Embrace it. Determine to either make it worse tomorrow or help it ease through an on-going commitment to better health and fitness.
All of this is made possible in spring. The truth is, it’s possible no matter what the season, but in spring nature offers us an obvious lesson of rebirth, a new start, and the opportunity to recreate ourselves into something better than we currently are. It’s foolish of us NOT to take full advantage of such an opportunity. Yes, it does come every year, but for how many of those years will we be blessed to enjoy it?