may: the best of times, the worst of times

May is a month of celebrations. Of graduations and finishings, launching into new things and embarking on adventures. Houses sell best in the Spring and more people move in this time of year than in any other. If one pays attention to the natural world, these rhythms make good sense.  The earth, long dead by harsh temperatures, kept fallow by lingering frosts, miraculously comes again to life. May in Tennessee is a green, lush wonder.  The miracle of the world around you makes you want to slow down, sit on a patio, find the nearest hammock, and just stop moving.  The air feels so right most days that you can't tell where your skin stops and where the world begins.  It is lovely.

And yet, May can be the WORST.  All these new beginnings, accomplishments, adventures and celebrations apparently require a ceremonial something to mark them.  They require reservations, last minute trips to the store, stolen moments from work, and weekends so full of the "good stuff" that they leave you grumpy and exhausted.  The miracles we notice are not the tulips budding, but the fact that we actually made it to every freaking event to which we RSVP'd.  We squeeze each minute to such an extent that we assume we are living the good life...we're busy having fun, and that counts, right?  We settle for an instagrammable photo to prove the significance of our time, because if we stop, we might realize that we more closely resemble robots than we do people.  I have become such a victim of my schedule that i regularly show up for things, knowing I can stay approximately 12 minutes before I try to gracefully exit.  I have begged more rides for my kids than a good mother should, and I've skipped so many meals that hangry me just feels like 2pm on a Tuesday. 

And yet, for whatever it's worth, I want to plea with all of us to take a note from the natural world.  Life in America in May demands productivity, so if you find an unscheduled moment, may I suggest you walk outside and just look around?  In a month of formal endings, beginnings and celebrations, may I suggest we look for informal moments to breathe and wonder?  We love to celebrate a well-earned accomplishment, but wouldn't it be fabulous if we paused to celebrate the hope that fills the air when buds begin to bloom on a breezy afternoon?  I recognize the absurdity of that sentence, and yet I think celebrating the act of breath outside on a gorgeous spring day might restore us to our best selves. 

In this manic month of May, do your best to elevate gratitude, to take a minute to breathe and look around when you can.  To just be.  Not everything worth noticing took a ton of work.  This month, notice beauty around you.  Observe the scenery as you dash from event to event. Pay attention to the honing device in you that longs for a drink on a patio.  If you try to make it to everything on your calendar, commit to showing up, and then stay in that moment until you have to dash to the next.  If you are supposed to appreciate a teacher, thank them in the context of investing in your child everyday for 9 months, rather than in the context of your overcommitted May-self. 

May offers us a dozen reasons to remember renewal is real every day.  When you see it, grab it, and hang on.  This month provides us with an interstitial space that pops up between a world full of new wonder, and a habitual world full of sadness, drudgery, or even fun overcommitment.  The gorgeous thing about such a space is that there is room to figure out who you are and where your gaze rests.  Will you look mostly to the wonder of the world around you, or will you focus on the sadness, stress and fatigue? Shifting your gaze to the good in the world, to trustworthy people, to evidence of redemption, to the hope of renewal, is not a betrayal of the hard stuff. It will remain.  If May offers you a break from the hard, seize it!

For a few moments every day, the beauty of the world will give you pause.  From one struggling human to another, may i humbly suggest, stop and take it in.  Shift your gaze.  Slow you roll.  As far as it is in your power, commit to more hammocking, and less multitasking.  Maybe May is the month of celebration for a reason...

Happy May.