What To Think About When You Think About Spring

Spring is my favorite time of year in Texas.

After a dreary winter, the colors come back. The birds are out. The days last longer. The breeze is light. The air is cool.

The leaves come back on the trees around my ranch. Suddenly, the woods are full and dense. The grass comes in. The bluebonnets flood the fields. Soon enough, blackberries will be ripe for the picking.

But as beautiful as it all is, there lurks beneath a kind of darkness.

Phillip Larkin’s bittersweet poem captures this darkness well:

The trees are coming into leaf

Like something almost being said;

The recent buds relax and spread,

Their greenness is a kind of grief

The inherent grief is the passage of time. Each season brings new life, yes, but also marks the cessation of life. It’s a painful truth, the poem points out, written in the rings of the tree. Winter is dead and over…and all of us a little more so, too.

Think back to those cold winter afternoons where you didn’t want to go outside. Where you didn’t want to do anything at all. **Where you said to yourself, I can’t wait for this to be over. You weren’t killing time…that was time killing you.

I promise you though, I’m not just looking at natural beauty and finding the morbidity in it. When I look out over my ranch in the spring, I also think of the last stanza of Larkin’s poem, which is actually quite hopeful.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh

In fullgrown thickness every May.

Last year is dead, they seem to say,

Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Seneca would’ve liked those last two lines. Not only did he also point out that death isn’t this thing that happens once in the future, but is happening always, with every second passing; he said that the one thing all fools have in common is that they’re always getting ready to start. They know that they should begin afresh…they just don’t.

It’s easy to look at the budding flowers, the sprouting plants, the longer days and warmer weather and take the change and growth for granted, to live vicariously through it. But we can’t stop there. We have to match their energy and change with them.

We can’t wish another season away or simply wait it out.

In fact, we shouldn’t let a single day go by that way. The Stoics would say that each morning is a new season. Every moment is an opportunity to start life anew, to choose a new way, to rededicate yourself to your philosophy.

“Begin at once to live,” Seneca said, “and count each day as a separate life.” “Think of yourself as dead,” Marcus Aurelius wrote. “Now take what’s left of your life and live it properly.”

If you’re looking to leap into something better this March, we just put together The Daily Stoic Spring Forward Challenge.

In the spirit of beginning afresh and of growth and renewal, this 10-day challenge is designed to bring a sense of clarity and purpose to your life.

Each day, you’ll be presented with a challenge to help you:

  • Simplify your life
  • Gain control over your time
  • Face your fears
  • Expand your point of views
  • Abandon harmful habits
  • Do more with your days

Here’s what you’ll get:

  • 10 custom challenges delivered daily (15,000 words of all new original content)
  • 10 custom video messages where I’ll guide you through each day
  • A printable 10-day calendar with custom illustrations to track your progress
  • Access to a private community to communicate and motivate other participants
  • A wrap-up live Q&A with me and thousands of other Stoics

It was Marcus Aurelius who said: “This is what you deserve. You could be good today. But instead you choose tomorrow.”

Don’t choose tomorrow. Choose to be good today and challenge yourself to demand more for your life this season.

If you’re ready for the challenge, I hope you’ll join me. Just head to dailystoic.com/spring to sign up today!

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.