Last week was Spring break so my partner and I headed down to Palm Springs to catch a little sun and shake off some of the Northern California chill that seems to last longer each year. We arrived to perfect weather and swaying palm trees lining the streets near our house. Everything appeared to be in order for a perfect week of sun and relaxation.
Until we woke the next morning, and the winds were starting to blow. Now, spring winds in the desert are not unusual, but when they are blowing up to 80 miles an hour it does make you stop and take notice. Definitely not what we had planned but since there was little choice, we settled in to watch as leaves–and the occasional palm frond–blew past our balcony.
Twenty-four hours later things had died down, so we set out to explore the results of those amazing winds. Branches had fallen into the streets. Piles of debris littered lawns. The gutters were clogged with an endless number of dead and dried palm fronds and bark. Everywhere I looked the winds had cleared the remains of last season’s growth from the trees, and it now lay scattered across streets and yards.
Although the windstorm had barely passed, people were already busy at work, clearing the debris and attempting to restore a sense of normalcy to the area. In a few hours, you could barely tell that gale force winds had whipped through the area and prepared the landscape for the upcoming growing season by clearing away all the dead wood.
All was calm until night fell and the wind returned. Not quite as strong as before, but certainly strong enough to make itself heard and felt. The next morning found yet more debris littering the recently tidied lawns and driveways. It seemed that people had been ready for one incident of change in the landscape, but the smaller, continual changes seemed to throw them for a loop. There were fewer souls out bundling branches and sweeping leaves. More people seemed content to wait until all the winds had passed before attempting to set things right again.
Of course, watching this display unfold over several days set me thinking. We all know that there will be periods of great change in our lives. There is a reason that certain events are referred to as the winds of change. We don’t really know when they will start, nor do we know how strong they will become. But once these winds start to blow, nothing seems sacred to them. Anything we hold as comfortable or familiar can be blown away or changed beyond recognition.
Thankfully, these winds don’t last. Once they blow through, we can start to clear away the debris they stirred up. We can even start to rebuild if necessary. However, we should remember that just like windstorms, life changes seldom happen completely at one time. There may be one significant event, but most often there will be follow-on events. Smaller, yes, Less difficult, probably. But change is still change, no matter the magnitude, and it takes time to assimilate it in our lives.
Sometimes we adjust to an initial change and believe that all the hard work is done. We can get on with our lives and move forward, even grow from the experience. Until the next episode occurs, and we have to stop and adjust to the changes again. It can be exhausting and frustrating, especially when the need to adjust to change never seems to end. If we aren’t careful, it can play hell with a positive attitude.
Spring windstorms in the desert are caused by unsettled weather patterns brought on by the change of seasons. And as in life, unsettled patterns are seldom a single day event. They can last for days, even weeks, until nature finally finds balance again. Meanwhile, the landscape is prepared for a new season and new possibilities as the winds blow away anything that no longer benefits or supports growth.
When we are going through our own unsettled weather patterns, it is important to remember that it takes time to find balance again. Expect changes to continue during these periods. Seldom are we faced with just one incident. However, eventually the changes will end, and we will be able to adapt and flourish again. If we try to clean up too soon, we may have to rinse and repeat. Do that one too many times and it may no longer seem worth it.
Sometimes it seems that the winds will never stop. But they will end. And when they do, our personal landscapes will be cleared of all the debris and ready for new growth.
And that can be a very exciting time.