As I drove my daughter to school today, I saw something disturbing:
Rows of trees lining the drive to her school all in bloom.
Not the beautiful bloom of spring. Not an arrogant display of sensuality and color. Not the vibrant urgency of life that fills the sweet-jasmine air.
Instead I see a crisis. Paper-like, diminished blossoms strung out on stark branches like shy little girls dressed up in their mother's old clothes. Nothing fitting quite right.
It's January. We are still in the darkest of days. Yet, here in my corner of California, we have had record-breaking heat for over a month.
Sunny. Sun. Flips flops and shorts. High of 84. 87. 82. And more sun.
Don't get me wrong. I love it. I appreciate that my energy bill was under $30 this month. I love beautiful weather. That's why I live here.
But this is ridiculous.
Maybe it's just me, and that I spent too many winters in the snow. So everytime there's an anomalous sunny day, I feel pressure to use it. Get outside. Go for a hike. Go to the beach. Take the kids to the pool.
And I can do that for a day or two. It's fun to do this once in a while.
But our summer never ended. And we are now in late January and the party hasn't stopped.
And I look at those trees with their confused little blossoms. The heat pushing them to perform too soon.
They didn't get to rest. They didn't get to sleep. They didn't get to just close their eyes or stay in their jammies watching back-to-back Suits episodes (yes, I'm projecting).
No, these blossoms look like the work of a No-Dose-popping, Diet-Coke-guzzling tree that's been stringing together all-nighters. Tired and unable to produce anything other than this shoddy workmanship.
I feel sad for these trees. I can relate to these trees. I do the same thing.
The minute the heat gets turned up, I go into Performance Mode and push harder.
A little stress? Just do more. Science projects, kids activities and a term paper all need to be done by 5:00? No worries... I've got it. A 3-hour gap in my schedule? Catastrophe! I'll start a new project to fill in the blank. Sunny day? Let's use it.
I've always done this. And I've quietly prided myself on this attribute. Seeing myself as a top performer at maximum productivity.
But the reality of what it looks like on these trees makes me rethink this entire strategy.
They didn't have the time to lose their leaves and be still while new buds took a few minutes to grow. They don't have the water it takes nor the hours of daylight to sustain this pattern. And we've got a long, long way until next fall when they will hopefully get their next reprieve.
In other words, they don't have what they need to be healthy. They were rushed into this without a long-term plan.
And this is exactly what I do. When I feel a little heat, I start to operate at crisis level. I just work faster and harder. I sacrifice eating healthy, my yoga practice, couch time - taking energy advances in the form of caffeine, hoping that I never really have to pay back the debt.
This isn't excellence. It isn't beautiful. And it isn't graceful.
So, I need to do what these trees can't do.
We all do.
We need to feel the heat and just let it be hot for a minute, while we keep the big picture in mind. While we take care of our rest, our nutrition and our overall health.
We need to remember that there is a season for everything. And that spring comes soon enough.
And if we practice a little patience, and bear the unseasonable heat without manic reaction, our fruit will turn out so much sweeter.
There is a magnificence that can only be created.
By waiting for the intended season.