Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Seasons of Life

The Seasons of Life

I have been struggling of late. It’s silly, really. I’m finally making enough money that I don’t have to be worried about paying my bills, and I don’t have to spend hours on the computer scouring for jobs that I know aren’t there. I should be content.

And yet, I’m not.

I have had this progressively deepening sense of anxiety that all is not right with my world. And it has been wearing me down, stealing my sleep, sapping my energy and enthusiasm.

And I couldn’t figure it out.

Until this morning, when my cats – being the incorrigible troublemakers that they are – woke me before I was ready and forced me physically out of bed. And as I rose, I stepped to the window and saw the sun literally setting the tree line on fire with fall colors.
And then it hit me. Much like my Beach Walk a few weeks ago. Suddenly, I understood what I’ve been going through. It didn’t make me like it any better, but at least now it all was falling into place.

Life is a cycle of seasons. And I mean that far beyond the typical metaphor of birth, development, adulthood, and death.

As we grow in life, we repeatedly progress through necessary cycles, just as the earth does each year, that help us to experience proper regeneration and renewal.

Each cycle begins with a rebirth – Spring, if you will, that happens mostly out of sight of the naked eye. This is the season of regeneration, where the tender young shoots are nourished beneath the surface, sucking critical supplements from the soil that surrounds them. Each tender shoot has the potential to grow into something large and beautiful, if only the proper conditions are provided.

As the climate warms, the days lengthen, and the sun becomes more demanding, the cycle enters summer, the season of growth. Summer is when we see it all come to fruition. It is the season of production. We can visibly see the fruits grown and ripen before our eyes. Those tiny shoots that were all but invisible during Springtime, now present themselves with a flourish and a presence that is all but impossible to ignore. Not every shoot will live to see the Summer, but those that do will make their debut with a flourish.

And Summer, inevitably, transitions to Autumn, the season of harvest. It is in the Fall that we are able to reap the luscious fruits of our Summer growth. Autumn is a time of reward, when we can pack away the abundance of produce from the summer plants, storing it up to dole out in delicious reminders of our distant warmth as the mood hits us. Autumn is the season of fulfilment. Fall has always been my favorite season of all.

But as the days begin to shorten, and temperatures dip lower, the Autumn must inevitably bow to Winter. Oh how we dread Winter. It is the season of death, of decay, of cold and impersonal days. We huddle inside our homes during Winter, just praying that Spring will come swiftly, swooping in like swallows over a field before we succumb.

But Winter cannot be rushed, either.

For Winter is the season of rest. It is the time for us to replenish our depleted resources, to draw warmth from the hearth and huddle together in community. Though Winter seems dead on the outside, it is actually the root of all life. Before regrowth, there must be death to allow for regeneration. Winter, with its icy touch, reminds us of the good things that are to come if only we can be patient enough to let the seasons flow.

And so our lives move on, through the seasons, not just physically, but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally as well. For every winter season, there is a corresponding Spring, Summer, and Autumn. We cannot rush the progression of the pattern, or the entire balance of the process is lost.

This is the lesson I gleaned from the sun-burnished leaves this morning. While I was highly cognizant of my recent “winter,” when I was searching for employment as well as mission and purpose in my life, I had neglected to understand that I must progress through the corresponding Spring and Summer before I can reap the rewards of Autumn. The seasons must not be rushed, or slighted, or their produce will be inferior.

A “hot house” tomato does not develop with the same succulent flavors as one that is kissed by months of summer sunshine in the backyard garden. So, too, must my shoots be given the proper time and sustenance to come to their full maturity before they may be harvested.

So, like my “Walk on the Beach,” nature is showing me the importance of patience lately. Our lives are a continuous cycle, and we must experience the full repetition of each cycle in order to provide ourselves the proper regeneration and move on. And, like the Doctor, each regeneration takes on a whole new face, changing with the cycles to best fit our current circumstances.

And so, I shall embrace the seasonal cycle of my life, paying closer attention to its changing needs as we move from one aspect to the next, instead of focusing on the Autumn harvest that must surely be looming large.

I shall not despair in the “winter of my discontent,” as Shakespeare wrote, but I shall embrace Winter’s transformative and restorative powers that will bring even brighter blooms in its wake.

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