Spring is such a deceptive season. Full of promise and pregnant with metaphor, it taunts us with a whiff of summer, but never quite lets us forget about winter. The wind snarls up when we least expect it. The evenings drop suddenly away into night. And here we are, a residual cough, a tissue still in the inside pocket of a jacket. Still tired. So tired. Has anything really changed? Will anything ever change?
But of course. Things are changing all the time. Look around. See the tiny changes. The new things. The small shifts that happen in time. This is a Public Service Announcement.
See the tiny green shoots diving sideways out of flower stems, hurling themselves at the sun. Try to read it as anything other than gleeful, hungry, blind enthusiasm. You can’t.
Notice the way new friendships can be kind of performative, with everyone putting their best foot forward, and then sometimes there’s a little moment when someone lets their guard down, and sometimes that moment can be super important. Like when I overheard a young guy at a train station recently saying to a girl he was there with, “Actually, I don’t know who that is. Is he a rapper? I was just saying I knew because Jason was making me look like an idiot.” The girl, who obviously wasn’t a close friend, looked at him then, and smiled. “You don’t want to listen to Jason,” she said. ”Jason can’t play Livin’ on a Prayer on the piano, can he?” and then they looked out the window together, and Jason, who didn’t even get a say in it, was elsewhere, significantly diminished.
Witness an aeroplane farting a fluffy trail through the sky. There’s not a lot about that scenario that isn’t amazing.
Enjoy the mist evaporating off wet tarmac in the morning sun or the sun disappearing slightly more slowly than it used to.
Anthropomorphise everything in your line of vision except the people. Imagine the trees and the buildings are animate. See the history they’ve seen. Look at us down there. Hello us!
Change everything: art yourself. Go to a gallery. Read a book. Listen to something. Sit in a cinema in the dark and fold another universe into your mind for a couple of hours. Extra points if you do it alone.
Listen to the conversations around you in your day. Hear the gear changes in other people’s lives. The man on the train lending quiet support to his partner at home with their baby. The couple discussing their weekend plans. Two friends analysing a relationship problem (“yes but it shouldn’t always be you making the sacrifices, Jen, that’s the thing”). What’s going to happen in these people’s stories? The relationship, obviously, is doomed. That much is clear simply from the muted exasperation of the friend and the middle-distance stare of Jen… but maybe we’re all wrong about Jen. Maybe Jen knows in her heart of hearts what her partner just can’t see himself. She knows his potential better than he does. Give it a couple of years, maybe, and Jen’s friend will be seeing wedding pictures on Facebook and in a rush of regret she might just find herself wishing she hadn’t said those things that day about sacrifices. And the baby, the one with the quiet-talking Dad, has at the very least had a solid start and maybe this conversation, the one on the train, is the conversation that eases his mother, sitting in the suburbs with the dishes to do and the To Do List swimming on the calendar before her, eases her into the afternoon and out of her anxiety and maybe she will remember it always. The weekending couple, going their separate ways now, kissing lightly as they part, share a mutual joke as they look back at one another, rolling their eyes and shaking their heads and you know what? I think those two are going to be okay too. You never know, but you could be standing right in the middle of a significant moment of change, which has nothing whatsoever to do with you.
Look at the tops of buildings. The bottom halves of buildings are plastered with new stuff - signs that shout things like “SALE NOW!” or fresh graffiti or new signage. People forget about the top halves of buildings, though, so they stay as they always were, stuck in a time warp, ancient and untouched. It’s a lovely way to remind yourself that this bit, like all the other bits, is only happening right down the bottom near the SALE NOW sign. There are lots of other bits, in lots of other places, and some of those places have beaches.
See? Tiny change everywhere. Nature and art and aeroplane farts. It’s all happening while you’re standing still. Move about a bit. You never know what might happen. This has been a Public Service Announcement.
This is from The Big Issue. Please buy The Big Issue when you see a vendor.