The first day of spring here in the northeastern US is a big deal—it’s the official farewell to winter, to night being longer than day; it’s a celebration of the turning of this big beautiful planet towards warmth and light, rebirth and joy. No matter how much beauty one finds in winter—and there is plenty!—the anticipation of spring and all of its stored-up joy is immutable. The shiver one feels in the still-cold mornings doesn’t survive the warmth that is generated in one’s heart in mid-March as the ugly snowbanks give up their form and the sun bends just so through the kitchen window.

That stored-up joy leaks out in so many ways this time of year in the northeast. I feel it as I soften into the warmth of the fleece on my back as it absorbs the sunlight. I hear it in the thunder of sheets of melting snow sliding off the roof and onto the lawn. It appears as I stand in the driveway listening to a single tufted titmouse ‘peter-peter-peter’-ing in its search for a mate. It’s in the laughter shared with a friend while we watch their two freshly bathed dogs rolling around in the dirty, newly-revealed front yard.

All of this joy is also accompanying the news of loved ones near and far who either have received, or are about to receive, their second vaccination. While I’m feeling really hopeful these days, I’m also noticing the urge to skip right over the ugly-dirty-snowbanks-melting-and-the-frost-heaves-are-still-flattening-out-and-when-can-I-please-get-my-first-shot phase and get right to the yay-it-is-finally-summer-and-it’s-safe-to-come-out-now-and-travel-and-hug-and-sing-with-my-friends-and-do-all-the-happy-things-all-at-once-right-this-damned-minute phase.

Then I remember that wanting is the root of suffering, and the other day I started singing, over and over, the seedling of a new song:

Does anything need to change right now?

It’s a really good question, and one that I am constantly asking myself these days.

Yes, I’m impatient.

Yes, it’s seemed like an especially long winter, and it has certainly been a long strange year.

And yes, it is possible to be happy right here, staring at this screen, or staring out the window, or laughing at a clean-oops-now-dirty dog rolling in the dirt. I can even find happiness in slowing down, over and over, as I navigate the frost heaves that are flattening out— and yes, maybe more slowly than I would like, but flattening out all the same.

Just like those frost heaves, both my impatience and my joy continue to rise up, make themselves known, and then fall away again.

I don’t want to resist the dirt. I wanna be like those pups I saw this week and roll around in it—carefree and full of laughter and an openness to the fullness of experience.