Seasons of Life

The excessive heat warnings are over, and soon the days will be 20 degrees cooler than they were back in July. Unfortunately for those of us excited for sweater-weather, that’s still about 85 degrees during the day. Despite the weather, we still feel that sense of change as the calendar rolls over from one season to the next.

Our lives are in so many ways defined by the seasons – they dictate when we work, learn, rest, and celebrate. Pausing to acknowledge this from time to time can be healthy. It reminds us that life is cyclical.

Each season brings us back to a familiar place, even as we pass through different phases of life. In childhood, we experience a series of first days of school, until the last first day is over and we move on to adulthood. Then later, if we choose to start a family of our own, we go through the same parade of first days of school, this time from a whole new place in life as parents. We can see a similar pattern in the holidays. Our first experiences become the memories that we look back on with nostalgia all our lives. In adulthood we might try to recreate those early happy memories and keep old traditions alive. Or, we might choose to start brand new traditions and make new memories.

Look back and think about how many first days of school you had, how many birthdays or holidays or special occasions you celebrated. How often did something go wrong or “ruin” those experiences? In the moment, you probably felt sad, or angry, or disappointed that such a special event was spoiled for you. But those occasions always came around again the following year, giving you a chance to experience something better. Think of all times when things turned out better than you ever planned.

Each year we revisit the same landmarks on the calendar. Fall follows summer. Winter follows fall. Birthdays and anniversaries arrive right on time. Each time we are a little different, and so is the world around us. Some years we might feel wiser and others, just older. Some years are good, some are terrible, but they always end.

Whatever season of life you find yourself in right now, remember that it’s temporary. Remember also that it’s cyclical. If you’re struggling now or going through a dark time, know that all you really have to worry about is surviving until the storm passes. Hopefully, while you’re getting through it you’re able to learn something that will help you the next time you’re dealing with something hard. If you’re having a good period right now, pause as often as you can to look around and appreciate everything that’s going right. Think back to worse times and enjoy how much better they are right now.

Remembering that life is cyclical encourages us to be in the moment and fully appreciate when things are good, and it helps us to be less afraid of the future when things are bad. It reminds us that we have to survive the low points in life in order to recognize and enjoy the high points. It is a chance for us to live more mindfully.