The Season of Change

Four times a year we celebrate a slightly arbitrary date as the change from one season to another.  The change of seasons was scientifically determined by changes in weather and hours of sunlight – measurable, observable factors based on ecological and meteorological data.  Then, to make it easier for everyone, a general date was chosen to mark the change of seasons, usually the 20th or 21st of the month.  Today marks the end of winter as we move into spring.  So what does this date actually mean?

For some this signals the time to change wardrobe, bringing out warm-weather clothes and packing away the bulky sweaters and fleece.  For some, this is the time to make certain purchases because markdowns and sales will be happening in stores.  Others start different jobs around the house, inside and out.  What makes us do these things?  Why do we suddenly see life a little differently just because of a date on the calendar that says “first day of spring.”

Certainly there are logical foundations for changing wardrobes.  As the weather warms up, it is no longer feasible to wear heavy clothing.  And, of course, spring clean-up in the yard is timed because of one’s ability to get into the yard and gardens to clean out contaminated waste that has been rotting through the winter and to prepare for the renewed growing season.  But more than just jackets and plant debris are changing this time of year.  There is a shift in attitudes and emotions.

Scientists have determined that the amount of sunlight we receive may affect our melatonin levels and, therefore, our moods –  measurable, observable factors based on ecological and meteorological data.  That can’t be all it is.  I’ve observed people (including myself) who reach a point of change, regardless of that data.  When the calendar says it’s spring, there is a base need for a change.  If not in the weather, than in ourselves.  We need to air out our houses, change closets around, clean out cellars.  I’ve seen windows open and rugs hanging over railings when it’s still cold enough to snow, simply because “it’s time.”

Every so often we need a mark to set our place.  A place for a beginning, or an ending.  A way to start over.  Whether it’s better organization in our homes, new flowers in our gardens, improved attitude at work or a refreshed view of a relationship, we want to have a chance to fix things in our life that we view as broken.  Arbitrary dates, like the change of seasons, give us a way to set short-term goals and feel productive.  It doesn’t really matter that it’s spring (or fall, or winter, or summer).  It only matters that “it’s been three months and my life isn’t any better so I need to make changes.”

So, here we are again, ready to make changes.  My life will always be broken, so I guess it’s a good thing there will always be another season coming when I can make changes.

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