Nothing beats a bit of realism and the Irish proverb Is annamh earrach gan fuacht – Seldom is spring without cold is certainly sobering if not a genius prompt to resilience thinking.
The climatic truth is that even after a long winter, the Spring still has some cold within it. The proverb reminds that while we can enjoy the new leaves emerging, enjoy the birdsong, feel the warmth of the sun on our face, don’t sell the scarf and gloves just yet. This is not pessimism this is the practicalities of life.
I have always been a big fan of Zen – there are lot of wise words in it. My favourite Zen saying is “Before enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.” Enlightened or not you still need to fend for yourself, you will still need firewood and water to drink and bathe with. The spring still has cold in it.
Enlightenment does not stop life and life’s necessities in their tracks. Life goes on, enlightened or not. The transformation is in your perception of the world and your expansion of consciousness, not a new realm where the mundane realities no longer apply.
And while you are mindful of each step on the journey do not be daunted or caught off guard by a cold day in spring – a minor setback – no panic if the path is frozen for a time. Chop some wood. Warm your toes.
This seanfhocail speaks of taking the good with the bad – equal measure and in your stride – it is highly mindful. In a way it also reminds us that you cannot have good without bad just as you cannot have day without night, cold without hot, or joy without pain – they are not a consequence of each other but the frame of each other.
We understand hot by knowing cold, we know daylight by its difference to night-time and we appreciate joy all the more for having had the experience of pain or sorrow. We sleep and we wake – we are alive in both states – hearts beat, blood flows, lungs breathe – life is intact. Life is as intact in sorrow as it is in joy – we need not fear the cold day in spring.