Breaking For “Spring”

The lion of March is roaring with ferocity.

His fickleness knows no bounds, as he offers sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures one day, a harsh wind the next and, inexplicably, spurts of angry snow showers and intolerable gusts in between, maybe to keep things interesting.

Despite the unpredictable nature of this month, it’s not one to be ignored. March is when we “spring forward” (everyone’s favorite day of the year?), honor St. Patrick by drinking green beer or stirring up green pancakes–and welcome “spring.”

Some of the sports-minded among us pass the month preoccupied with basketball, whether that’s following the state high school tournaments or obsessively viewing the “March Madness” contests (the latter might also involve varying quantities of beer, green or otherwise).

Numerous friends and family members of mine celebrate birthdays throughout March, so those occasions offer regular bright spots along with the chance to tick days off the calendar and drop old-fashioned paper cards (with stamps! Remember those?) in the mailbox at frequent intervals.

While Julius Caesar was fairly warned to “beware the Ides of March,” those of us stuck in the Midwest throughout this entire 31-day stretch might wish we could ward off something slightly different: The vacation boasts of others. Are these people luckier–or just plain smarter–than us? Maybe they’re simply better at allocating their allotted vacation time, or at planning ahead, or somehow managed to send all their college-aged kids to schools with coordinated academic calendars.

Whatever the case, it’s impossible to avoid hearing about or seeing evidence of March get-aways to Hawaii, or the Dominican Republic, or Colorado, or Wyoming, or Texas, or Florida, or California–even London and Cuba.

In the ancient days of my youth, which technologically speaking might as well stretch all the way back to Caesar’s reign, the spring break trips and parties enjoyed were mostly matters of mystery to anyone not directly participating. Without Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, LinkedIn, Twitter and all other forms of direct and instant communication, one would have to wait for Polaroids or slides (possibly shared over a hot sandwich at a card club gathering two months later) to be passed around or displayed as flickering images on a bare living room wall.

By then, the local weather had typically improved enough to stifle stabs of vacation envy, with lawn mowers possibly already in action and outdoor walks or rounds of golf under way.

An October 2015 study of the Pew Research Centre revealed that 65 percent of adults use at least one social networking website, with more than two billion active social media accounts online. In addition, users spent an AVERAGE of two hours and 25 minutes daily on social media sites.

The point? It’s not as easy to ignore social media, or the trends and activities of one’s friends and acquaintances, as it used to be. And when “everyone else” seems to be doing something “fun” or going someplace relaxing or exciting, developing a “woe is me” attitude isn’t hard.

Sorry; I can’t offer a sure-fire remedy for the “no-spring-break-ache” that might hit you, if it hasn’t already struck. A few predictable tips include thinking of people less fortunate than yourself (in other words, get out there and volunteer! Somewhere! Anywhere!), picking up an engrossing book (I heartily recommend Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run”), shedding some winter weight with visits to a fitness center (a trip most of us can surely afford?) and staying off social media as much as possible without completely “losing touch.”

On the other hand, if you thrive on vicarious experiences, then by all means, self-medicate and immerse yourself in the pictures of sand, sun and skis currently flooding the world of social media.

Et tu, Bruté?