by David Shackleton (David can be reached at david@integraldesign.org)

April is the heart of Spring, the most visible transition from the frozen to the flowing, the still and quiet of winter to the bustle of summer.

Of course, I’m speaking seasonally, and our modern lifestyle pays little heed to seasons.  With our centrally heated and air conditioned homes and offices, our snow tires and snow plows, we tend to regard winter as just an inconvenience to be dealt with, or maybe vacationed from.

We maintain a constant attitude and lifestyle, assisted by technology, which tries to keep the environmental extremes outside of our lives.  We insulate ourselves from the swings and changes of nature.

I admit, there are good reasons for this – dealing with extremes is, well, extreme.  It’s challenging.  Yet our species has done it for thousands of years, and it’s only in the last few hundred that we have managed to insulate ourselves almost totally from the natural seasonal swings.

I don’t think that this achievement has served us well, overall.

Which brings me to my message about balance for this month.  Balance isn’t about striking a middle ground and holding it steady.  It isn’t about even-handedness and moderation.  Like the seasons, it’s about change. Not moderation, but alternation. It’s about going to each extreme and spending time there.  For the seasons, we might consider that winter is more about stillness and contemplation, while summer is about activity and business.

The message of balance is that we need both — not an even-handed middle, not a mixture of both, but alternately one and then the other.  Some contemplation time needs to be pure and still and quiet.  Some busy time needs to be pure activity, free of reflection and introspection.

Of course, this is just one of the lenses through which we can look at seasonal changes.  There are many others.  There is growing evidence, for instance, that the human body is healthier when living in an environment where the temperature varies regularly, rather than the fixed temperature that we tend to keep inside our homes.  Or we could consider growth — which all occurs during summer and not at all during the winter.

The natural cycles — summer/winter, day/night —  have a wisdom that we have adapted to over millions of years.

Enjoy the Spring, the return of light and warmth and natural growth.

~ David