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The Invitation of Spring Equinox

Blooming trees in spring - Photo by LuAnn Hunt on Unsplash

Change is in the air and it’s building toward a crescendo as we roll toward another equinox on March 20 (sidenote: don’t you feel like the solstices get all the glory?).

For me, the equinoxes are where sh*t gets interesting with a crackling energy that is sometimes hard, sometimes exciting, and sometimes both in the same moment.  Blooming trees in spring - Photo by LuAnn Hunt on Unsplash

I always think of what crocuses must feel like as they break through the crusty soil each year. No one tills the ground for them or lovingly prepares their garden bed (at least no one I know). I imagine the tenacity, grit, and determination a crocus must possess to burst through the soil.

That’s you, my friend. #crocusesunite

So here’s a random question for you as we get closer to the spring equinox.

If you encountered yourself on a crowded street, at a party, or even a meeting…would you recognize yourself as you?

If I’m honest, my own answer to that question is most likely no—I probably wouldn’t. Does that surprise you? I have the evidence to prove it that I’ll tell you about in a second.

But before we go there, here are a few more questions to consider:

  • Do you think a caterpillar recognizes itself when it comes out of its cocoon? Does it think, “Hey, I’m a caterpillar who can fly now!”
  • When a tadpole starts to sprout legs and then hop out of the water, does it wonder what happened to its little tail and panic about its ability to breathe on land?
  • When a baby starts to eat food with a spoon, do you think it thinks “What the hell is wrong with me…why am I doing this?”
  • When the shoreline of the coast changes, do the waves go “WTF is this?”

In the coaching world, it’s quite common to hear the word “transformation” being used, and I tend to roll my eyes when I hear it. That term is a bit of a sacred cow in the self-help/personal growth industry—so if you’re feeling any resistance or annoyance at me saying that out loud, I get it.

The idea that we need transformation—and the quest that inevitably ensues from it—keeps the wheels on the bus going round and round. The promise of transformation sells.

You won’t hear me use that term. It works just fine for many people, but for whatever reason, I can’t say it with a straight face. It feels like it comes with a dramatic sound effect—a slow moan of awe like “Oooooooooh!…a transformation!”

And yet. There are those moments (sometimes seasons) of change we move through that feel particularly full of friction and wildly different, sometimes terrifying. I feel them most around the equinoxes when we enter the transition to the winter or summer. I imagine this is what astronauts must feel when their little space machines re-enter the earth’s atmosphere.

Things start to vibrate—sometimes a heat tile comes off.
Things can feel out of control.
Things are happening—with or without your permission.

Nature is taking its course.
Gravity is doing its work.

Recently, I’ve been playing with the idea of evolution, rather than transformation.

Evolution feels more organic, natural, and almost invisible to the human eye.
It feels humble in its ordinariness, not loud and filled with fanfare because it’s extra-special.

Evolution feels like an unfolding or an unfurling over time, rather than a big reveal in a moment.

Transformation makes me think of those weird plastic toys my boys used to play with when they were little—the ones that could be wrenched, twisted, and manipulated into different shapes at will, from a car to a boat, to warrior with a jet pack.

Transformation makes me wince and brace for something sudden to happen. Do I want it? Did I ask for it? Will it be better—or worse? Do I have a choice or a vote?

Evolution makes me trust in the natural unfolding of things—and get curious. I start to notice and wonder, gathering insights and taking in data as I go. I feel alive— like I’m an active participant.

Why does any of this matter?

Because equinoxes are about transition. And transition is where we evolve—and change in ways we might not even recognize until much, much, later.

It’s powerful to know ourselves, right!? But what if we can’t see ourselves?

I’m not talking about blind spots or lack of self-awareness. I’m talking about being so present to your life as it’s evolving, that you haven’t really recognized the fact you’ve sprouted butterfly wings or grown frog legs—or that the shape of your entire coastline has changed.

There was a time I came upon a bunch of women talking animatedly about this other woman they knew and admired. She sounded fascinating. She sounded super cool. She sounded amazing. Unable to contain myself, I asked them who this woman was because I was quite certain I wanted to know her. Clearly we’d be instant friends.

That’s when they told me the woman they were talking about…was me.

I was instantly mortified by two things 1) I hadn’t recognized myself, even when described in great detail, and 2) I had been publicly witnessed falling in love with myself.

I swore I never wanted to have that sensation again. I promised myself I’d do better to pay attention—to see myself more clearly—enough to recognize myself in a crowd.

But the thing about evolution is this: sometimes you don’t know it’s happening. And when it does, you’re too busy flying with new wings or hopping around to care about what just happened.

That’s why it’s so important to have people in your life that SEE YOU. They don’t need to get you, understand you, related to you or even agree with you—but they are trusted witnesses to your evolution.

So who are your people?

Do they know the important role they play in your life? Have you told them? Do you trust their vision to see you clearly—to help you celebrate when you’ve sprung a new leaf or grown out of an old shell?

Ask them this: what do you see when you look at me?

You’re not giving away your power. You’re borrowing their lens for a moment.

It’s how a comet—or a crocus—can see its own evolution more clearly.


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