There is something about it that renews the spirit. When at long last winter has taken its leave, spring announces its presence. Slowly, at first, in the subtle appearance of buds poking through the earth. Then, more rapidly, in shocking bursts of color, fragrant breezes and promises of brighter days ahead.
American author Harriet Ann Jacobs wrote, “The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.”
After what has been a soul-crushing year of sickness, uncertainty, isolation and trauma, the triumphant return of spring seems even more likely to cause a revival of souls. Nature paid no heed to what’s behind us and instead blazed forth with hope and rebirth.
Nowhere is that more apparent than on the campus of MSU. I know that I am extremely lucky to be able to get there often to walk my dog and take in the beauty. Everywhere you look is the loveliness Jacobs described. Simply breathing in and listening to the peaceful sounds can heal whatever ails your soul.
Because we know everyone needs healing but not everyone can physically get to East Lansing, we put together some of our favorite sights and sounds of spring on campus. My colleague who helped create it calls it, “visual yoga or a moment of Zen.” Another said, “It’s like taking a walk on campus.” Whatever you call it, take one minute of your day, inhale and watch 60 seconds of Spartan spring. You might even want to play it on repeat.
We’re also feeling hopeful as more people get vaccinated, and we’re starting to see signs of returning to a more normal time. This week, using CDC and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services protocols, the university announced the removal of the outdoor mask requirement on campus. Now when you visit, you will really be able to smell the abundant blooms that dot the landscape.
We Spartans know a thing or two about blooms. We’re not just tending to them on campus, but our researchers are working to boost Michigan’s specialty cut flower industry by helping growers save energy and improve their crops. I absolutely love the splendor and smell of a beautiful summer bouquet.
I’ll be paying even more attention to how well I can smell the flowers. In a first-of-its-kind study, MSU researchers have discovered that a poor sense of smell may signify a higher risk of pneumonia. That gives me a reason to test my olfactory system by stopping and smelling the roses more often.
Whether it’s smelling the roses or some other way, finding means to balance your life is important. For Alaina Brenner, a recent graduate who earned two degrees in genomics and molecular genetics, and anthropology, joining a campus improv group gave her an outlet to relieve the academic pressures of college. Check out her Student view: Bringing balance to academic rigors to learn more about this impressive new alumna.
Suzanne Sena, an alumna who graduated in 1985 and now runs her own company, has a lot of advice for younger Spartans starting their careers. She says, “Don’t listen to people who say, ‘You have to choose one direction.’ You don't, and whatever you choose now, doesn't mean that's where you stay forever. But everything builds upon everything else.” Listen to a recent podcast with her to hear how she champions confidence and inspires self-belief.
How’s your self-belief today? If you need a boost, I suggest watching the spring video one more time. Or, better yet, get outside. Walk amongst spring’s finery and feel the possibilities each new day brings. Take a hint from Nature and show your loveliness in all its glory to everyone around you. Be the beauty that restores someone’s soul. Spartans Will.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner