Spring Training

We’ve had a run of unusually sunny days this week, and the college campus where I work has sprung to life in the warmth of it all. Just a few days ago I heard a sound in the distance that always sends a little ripple of joy through my brain: the distinctive dhoiiinng! of a metal bat smacking a baseball. Ahhh…. spring has arrived.

Cue the birdsong, cue some remixed Vivaldi, cue the mud and budding trees. When the college baseball team begins batting practice outdoors, I know that’s my cue to begin some spring training of my own.

Even before it has officially begun, just the thought of spring inspires thoughts of new beginnings. I try to channel that energy the same way a baseball team does—stretching, examining my swing again, and reevaluating my tools and skills. Is there something I can do to improve this year? Small adjustments I can make, or new techniques that will improve my performance?

Spring training is not just about warming up, but also rebooting. It’s about reconnecting with your teammates, and recommitting together to the work ahead. Work you do because there’s something about it that you all love, that you all contribute to in special ways, and that you all want to improve.

We all want to go out there and win every day, but that doesn’t happen without regularly reviewing and training ourselves on the fundamental skills. That’s what spring training is for.

And now the days are getting longer, and warmer, and the scent of new growth is in the air. There’s no better time to lace up your shoes and get moving. It’s time to play ball again.

 

Fall

Fall is here, and the ground is awash in the colors of decline. I admire something like a tree that can create such a glow at its tips not by pushing energy outward, but only by withdrawing, extracting strength from the outside in.

Fall

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But the bright colors of fall are not a building up, they are an unveiling of what was already there, the lifting of a curtain from the latest masterpiece. They are the final light before the dimming of winter, the applause at the end of the act. They are the cue for intermission.

This is the blank space on the page after the end of a chapter, the place we insert our bookmark before closing the cover, satisfied that the hero is safe for now, that the lovers have finally found each other, and we can pause before the final chapters begin.

It’s time for the slow fade to winter, as we follow the lead of the trees and pull inward, reel in the energy we were pushing out, and focus on strengthening our inner reserves, preparing the baffles and layers of down for our winter burrows.

Fall is the end of the summer rave, the final song at the after-party when we start trying to remember where we left our shoes a midst the crumbs and confetti scattered on the floor. It’s the time when we look up at the clock and realize how late it is already, and all the rest of our obligations come flooding back to our minds with a flare of color just like the trees outside our window.

Fall is here. Time to get moving.