I decided to skip my usual audio book during yesterday’s walk, opting instead to let my head wander with my feet. With autumn knocking at nature’s door, I settled on my favorite George Winston album so aptly named. A wave of deep sadness swept over me with the music. Then I remembered. This was the same album I immersed myself in during labor with our firstborn (Emilio is now in college, his 19th birthday just days away). And the same album I immersed myself in when hospitalized with a kidney infection in college; this album was my escape in the painful, preceding hours.
Two vastly different situations with two vastly different meanings attached. Yet both, somehow intertwined. I spent the next hour trying to figure it out before the answer hit like a ton of bricks. The connection? Changing seasons.
Life can be measured in seasons, both physically and spiritually:
Spring (from birth-25 years old). New life and growth; a time of identify formation and stepping into the world; carving out your spot.
Summer (from 25-50 years old). Playtime; energy is consumed by career, marriage, and/or children; living the thing fully (i.e. busy); beauty most easily seen.
Fall (from 50-75 years old). The great slow down as we transition to less busy; our bodies beginning to show signs of wear; the loss of parents and other loved ones alters our perspective; our children moving into a summer of their own; we make time to enjoy the life we have built.
Winter (from 75-end of earthly life). Beauty still surrounds us but can be more challenging to see; our bodies are tired and worn; we move inward towards a state of dormancy the older we get; a time of rest and reflection.
We can get stuck during times of transition if we are unwilling to let go of the former season and move into the new. That’s what happened to me in college. My future was uncertain and sense of identity was threatened; I longed for security. Instead of forging ahead, I buried my worries and fears in addiction. Transitioning from spring to summer (the ten years between adolescence and adulthood) were the most difficult of my life. Yet at the same time, I realize the pain was a necessary part of the process – making me who I am today.
It dawned on my during my walk that I am on the verge of another seasonal transition, this time moving from summer to fall. The future is uncertain as our kids move on with their own lives. The story is changing and instead of trying to hold onto the last chapter, I must move forward. Giving our children freedom to fly, accepting wrinkles and other signs of maturity as badges of honor, giving myself permission to slow down, crafting yummy dinners for two, and making plans for a future no longer bound to school calendars.
How about you? Which season are you currently in? What changes do you need to make to fully embrace this place in time? If you are close to a transition, spend some time thinking about what you would like the next season to look like. What are you most looking forward to?
It is not length of life, but depth of life. – Ralph Waldo Emerson