Well, we're a few days in, comrades, and many of us are confused, as we often are, concerning what appreciable difference Chicago has to offer between winter and spring. Unlike last year, when we were drunk on sun beams and irresponsibly letting our toddlers strip to their underpants and run wild at Osterman Beach, this year's forecast offers more predictably withholding fare. But I'd like to argue that this annual season of bitterly stubborn cold and grey ultimately suits us better. I'd like to argue that it's perfect. An endless winter followed by a spring that mostly keeps being winter helps make us who we are as a city. And cranky as you undoubtedly are, I bet you'll agree.
Chicago is quintessentially becoming. We get a bad rap as a place where good ideas and people find their legs, flourish, and eventually flee. We incubate. We train. And we release our best stuff out into the larger, better world. But for me, the best world is the one we're making right here; a world obsessed with process to the point that the process becomes the product. The Chicago I love is the one where, with sly smiles on the train, we acknowledge that what we're really all about is redefining being as becoming. I cherish this precious truth of Chicago. It's a place where chops abound.
We've got no choice but to be steadfast. "Tenacity or GTFO" Chicago insists each spring. This season is a facet of our training to thrive in a process-obsessed city. It demands that we make everything DIY-style: springtime in our work, our play, and maybe most of all among each other. Spring in Chicago dares us to stare plainly into the faces of the tangle of cranky people we live on top of and make community even when we're exhausted from winter -- to keep going. There isn't always money, space, or the other resources we might want to make whatever we're about, but we've got our chops and, for better or worse, each other. And since we can and do succeed in this with uncanny regularity, that tiny Chicago-specific seed takes root and starts to sprout in our guts, sending the pulsing message through us that asks, "what else?" And we get to work. Springtime in Chicago has a way of pruning us -- of pushing us up through the frozen earth, reaching impossibly for a sun that we hope will start shining soon. Who doesn't love this insane optimism? It's stunning and it's ours.
When I think about some of the areas where Chicago uniquely shines, I find evidence. It's no accident that jazz, comedy improvisation, and hot dogs all found special favor here. We are a city that loves an impossible project. We love a format that demands we stare point-blank at unreasonable humanity -- dares us to find the perfection in a tube of liquid meet, of two dinklels scrambling to make something funny and true out of thin air, of the infinite chaos of sounds finding some semblance of soul-satisfying order. And we do. We find it almost every time. It's not an accident. We're not lucky. We're Chicago. We train for it every March.
And wouldn't you know it, as I pause my typing to look out the window onto Lincoln Avenue, I notice that the sun has come out. I laugh and think to myself "Good one, Chicago."