Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with throwing open the cabinet of curiosities and wondrous things I call my brain and leading you on a tour of what actually resides in there – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
V is for…
vernalagnia: a romantic mood brought on by Spring.
Spring has well and truly arrived where I live. Over the weekend the first of the trees in my neighborhood began popping with buds and first leaves – in that luscious, luminous, only-seen-in-Spring gorgeous green. My eyes see that and my heart swoons. Simple as that.
“Spring and all its flowers
now joyously break their vow of silence.
It is time for celebration, not for lying low:
You too – weed out those roots of sadness from your heart.”
It’s time to welcome my annual bout with Spring fever.
Spring fever is any of a number of mood, physical, or behavioral changes, which may be experienced coinciding with the arrival of spring, On the one hand, the term may refer to an increase in energy, vitality, and sexual appetite. as well as a feeling of restlessness. On the other hand, the term may sometimes be used to describe an opposite effect of springtime lethargy or depression.
It’s believed there’s a biological component to this phenomenon. According to Scientific American: “It is well documented that animals and humans track seasons by measuring the length of days through an internal biological clock… (which) sits in mammals’ hypothalamus. It monitors light through a pathway to the retina and conveys information about day length to the pineal gland. This pea-size gland, tucked at the base of the cerebrum, controls the secretion of melatonin, dubbed the sleep hormone because it is only released in the dark or in dim light. The duration of melatonin release changes with nocturnal length, which is longest during winter…(And) Studies show that sexual behavior in mammals follows a seasonal pattern, one that promotes survival.”
This may well explain what poets and others have long known, as Tennyson said “In spring, a young man’s fancy likely turns to thoughts of love.”
Given that today’s word, vernalagnia, is particularly defined as dealing with romantic moods, you might guess I’m going to talk about love. If you know anything at all about me, you know I’m on a not-very-secret mission to spread love widely and encourage others to do so as well. I’m powered by heart energy. And that’s how I believe we should meet each other and the world.
“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.”
Mary Oliver said “My work is loving the world.”
I daresay that’s my work as well, and I imagine it might be said for all of us.
Thinking about love as a spiritual principle is different than how we often think about it in a more mundane way. What we often define as love can more likely be called conditional love – sentimental or emotional attachment to a person or thing. And while we say I love you unconditionally, there often really are conditions – I’ll continue to love you if you don’t change, or I don’t change, or if you bend yourself more into this shape I would prefer, or a myriad of other permutations that are really conditions.
In the more spiritual sense of the word I believe Love surpasses our ability to understand it. That it is the force from which all springs forth and what we are ever trying to allow our human selves to align more perfectly with.
There is a French proverb that says “To be loved is the best way to be useful.”
While I’m not sure everyone would take the interpretation of that proverb in this direction, I personally think it’s a wonderful invitation to deep dance. I don’t believe it asks us to be anything less than who we are. Rather it is asking us to be exactly who we are and shine that brightly. To be anything less is not to be authentic. But holding our wholeness, our authenticity, our true soul selfness is exactly what we’re all called to do. And when we can do that, even if only briefly before we slip into something less, that is a true gift we give not only to ourselves but each other. Just showing up as true soul selves is as useful as it gets.
I quite like this vintage needleworked piece I’ve got hanging on one of my walls: “There is only one joy – to love and be loved.”
What if today we let ourselves give and receive love in every moment? How magical might that be?
I think poet Ted Hughes had it right when he said: “The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.”
So there you have it – a meandering ramble on various aspects of love all brought on by my immersion in vernalagnia. What about you? Does Spring fever grab you and shake you until your heart’s afire? Do tell – you know I love to hear.