The fact that it was always the fall that seemed to have this pattern caught my attention. Why fall specifically? Schools start in the fall, but that would explain only two of the last four falls. It has certainly been marked by transitions in my life- moving, school starting, more moving, different jobs both starting and ending.
But as I started to examine this pattern, I realized that each year had a fairly definite flow. I don't view any influence as unavoidable, but rather more like how astrologers explain their craft- these influences don't have to define you, but they are there in the background regardless.
I noticed first that falls seemed to be a time of undoing. It almost felt like dying in a way. And yet as fall turned into winter, things would start shifting. In the past I always resisted this push, because I would start feeling ok about the fall and be creating some new momentum just in time to face the giant seasonal brakes that are the holiday season.
Decembers in particular feel like a time of slowing down, going inward, and reflection. It helps that its one of the months with the least sunlight, and it comes at the end of the calendar year. Both lend themselves to less time outside and more reflection. Sometimes its forced reflection upon facing the chaos and stuff around family get togethers, but its always seemed to me like the winter traditions are more a symptom of winter rather than the cause of its unique feel.
Knowing it would be like this, I tried something different this winter. I went with the flow and just allowed myself to slow back down, even as I could feel a growing momentum building. And in that slowdown, I discovered a calm once the initial panic and resistance faded away.
For me, that was realizing that not everything I do needs to have the specific outcome I think it should. It was realizing that I didn't need to force things, that in fact doing the best I can and just leaving it at that might be a far better route. It was realizing that not only am I not remotely powerful in this universe, but that maybe I don't need to be.
I realized that I could trust life. Not in a passive, oh everything-will-be-great sort of way. But that perhaps I don't know or need to know what the right thing to be happening is, and just maybe whatever is happening is totally fine even if at first or even fifth glance it doesn't appear to be.
And it was realizing that seasons and other cycles in life have their own flow that imprints itself indelibly upon the lives of each and every one of us.
I noticed that while winter is a time for slowing down and reflection, it is also a time for creating something new. In that reflection, in the ashes of a year gone however it did, can rise yet another shot at whatever this all is.
I noticed that it led into spring that was quite literally like a planted seed showing its shy green tendrils to the blue sky above. Plans and ideas crafted in the dark of winter began to take root and grow, bursting forth with growing momentum and excitement.
And as spring progresses into summer something else happens. The full flowering of what and who we are is there in its full power, and yet already the first issues start to show. In past summers, I noticed the last tinges of adolescent habits in my work attitude or discovered a growing anxiety as I realized that I had missed something.
With fall it has always felt very much like the leaves have fallen off. All I am left with is the bare tree. My creations of the year are there to see in all their beauty and all their flaws.
And that's why fall has always been tough. Its never fun to face the brutal truth of who I am and what I have created. And fall is a time of dying too- the leaves fall the ground, cracked and brown disappearing and decomposing into dust and soil.
And winter comes and its time to look at that bare tree and decide how I wish to proceed. What new understandings are needed? What new actions might be best? How to move forward?
In winter, in that stoppage, is the genesis for the motion for the rest of the year.
And on and on it goes.
So with that, I will close with a poem I hope encapsulates my reflections:
How odd this life
To be the planter and the plant
Creating a seed from Nothing in the dark fertile soil of winter
Placing it in the mother earth to spring forth in a new season
Rising up to the air, showing its green tendrils and flowers
Showing in full bloom in the summer, with full glory and yet cracks showing
Leaves falling off with Autumn, bare naked harsh beautiful reality
The fully realized seed crumbling around us
And winter comes again, back into Nothing to find the new Seed
Did we make the seed, or were we the seed?
Were we the masters, or merely buffeted by seasonal flow big and small?
We are the planters and the plant