The onset of NYC spring feels like the epitome of ambivalence. Day after day I wonder: heavy coat or light jacket, boots or flats, umbrella or not?
But it’s more than just my outerwear that fluctuates. My attitude seems unsure as well, a familiar toggle between safe and brave that feels accentuated by the chill in the air and the promise of new life.
“Go ahead and take a risk,” the buoyant breeze seems to say, even as rainclouds frown and suggest I stay inside.
The truth is I’m feeling overwhelmed with possibility and potential, and please note I’m not complaining. Rain or shine I trust in what’s to come; I just wish my circumstances were more certain.
And to some extent, of course they are: I am certain I am cared for, I am certain I am breathing. I am certain I am trying daily, and I’m certain of both failure and success.
On a recent visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I learned a few things about plants. Most of the landscape was still brown, plenty of bare branches and empty bushes.
Those plants know it’s not yet safe to blossom—a cold snap could still come and kill, and so it’s wise to wait.
But occasionally I saw bursts of color that delighted me. I felt connected to these flowers, bravely blooming without guarantee of survival. They boldly risked the wrath of winter to show their true colors, and, it seemed, they paved the way for their fellows to follow.
That’s not how it really works, my friend frankly informed me. The flowering plants bloom sooner because they’re not native to the region; in their southern climates of origin it’s perfectly safe to open up so early.
In other words, they’re totally in danger, they just don’t know any better.
All right, so it was ignorance rather than boldness that caused the beauty I appreciated. And maybe it doesn’t make sense to personify plants—the facts definitely damage my metaphor—but the vision inspires me nonetheless.
Each day is different, and a cold snap could come, but I can blossom anyway. I can be bold, and choose brave over safe, just like love over fear, again and again, whenever I can.
And whatever the weather, I can wear my heart on my sleeve.
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