Ah, the ever-changing seasons have so much to teach us.
Just a few weeks ago, I was smacked with a rather disheartening scene as I turned down one of my favorite streets. I treasure that street because it seems to possess a certain charm and wisdom in its own right. Its trees are mature and towering, its roads are wide and inviting, and its generous lots allow the inhabitants of every home plenty of space to live and move as they please.
My gaze met the barren trees, whose leaves I had admired only weeks prior. I recalled how, in perfect synchronicity, they had created a collage of fiery amber, vivid magenta and plum. I missed them. I grieved for the absence of them, wishing I had appreciated their day-wrecking beauty just a little bit more.
Everything changes in this strange and elusive, yet beautiful and predictable life we live, you know?
Isn’t it fascinating that the totality of our human lives – every experience, love, loss, first cry, lesson learned, stroke of luck, crossed finish line and final breath – is confined within the realm of a spinning ball of rock, and its tiny role within the vastness of the universe is as delicate and insignificant as it is mighty and significant?
Our fragile planet spins around a tilted axis of 23.5 degrees as it orbits the Sun, determining our every season. Such seasons are often cause for celebration or dread. Regardless, they remain steadfast reminders of life’s unapologetic promise of change.
The Ever-Looming Phantom of Change
So what do we do with such promise of change? Mostly, we run from it – desperate to beat it.
We treat it like a phantom in ugly pursuit of what we hold most dear. We slam the door in the face of that which we feel unprepared for and do not yet understand. We swear at the sky, demanding that it return to us all we have lost. We resent what we once had and have no more. We create distractions from the expiration dates we most fear, while pleading for total acceleration for the expiration dates which promise to relieve us from what we have come to hate.
Isn’t it funny, though, that our resistance to change also causes us to cling tightly to dead relationships, to decaying mindsets, to eating habits which make us sick and unhappy and to jobs which provoke an onset of groans and stomach cramps every time we enter its doors?
We all fear change to varying degrees, but the reality? Life is change.
By every Halloween, the fireflies have flown away and you may find yourself standing before your bathroom mirror examining the tan lines from your summer beach vacation, noticing they have begun to fade. By Thanksgiving, the pumpkins you lovingly selected and carved for Halloween have molded, died and may have begun to gag you with their stench.
By New Year’s Day, the eggnog you served the guests at your Christmas party will have found its new way down the garbage disposal. By the time Cupid draws back his bow, your holiday lights and decorations have long been boxed and stowed away, and are likely covered in a thin veil of cobwebs and dust. And, thus, the cycle begins again.
That’s life, though.
Some seasons are for planting seeds, and some are for harvest. Some are for open roads and some are for being cradled by tiny corners. Some are for feeling the blazing Sun on your bare skin and some are for scraping away the layers of frost. Some ask that you feast your eyes on a field of lilies, whereas some invite you to get lost in a maze of corn.
Some cannot exist at all without their counterpart(s), whereas some would simply not exist as fully, richly or meaningfully.
Each Day Is too Precious to Live From a Place of “I Can’t Wait…”
Life’s guarantee of change is as much a part of the human experience as the blood pumping through our veins. You cannot slow it down. It cannot be caged. You cannot drag it by its tail and lure it back to you. It can neither be conquered nor confined.
Earthworms will continue to appear in the fresh spring soil and bear cubs will continue to be born in the dead of winter, but no amount of wishing, hoping, clinging or bargaining can make any moment of it last forever. Indeed, there is no day, no hour, no minute, no matter how cherished, which can be frozen or repeated.
You do not have plenty of time. You have none of it to waste. You never have, and you never will.
The all-too-familiar phrase “life is short” may seem cliché and overused, but there is no more pure and succinct yet earth-shattering, illusion-busting truth.
Still, we continue to chase the weekends, we rush to reach our next big vacation on high, we dream with starry eyes for that ethereal “someday.” We make declarations of “I can’t wait” until waiting becomes the grand finality, gone and passed, and we then find something else we “can’t wait” for. Over and over again.
We cling tightly to the seasons we love most, and race breathlessly through the ones we feel have been unkind to us. But, they all end – the good ones, the bad ones, the eventful ones and the boring ones. Such reality is both comforting and discomforting. It is both hopeful and hopeless. It offers the promise of beginnings, both beautiful and unwelcome, as well as endings, both grievous and relieving.
Most beginnings are marked with a toast, whereas some plague us with feelings of “But, not yet.” Some endings provoke a looping scene of “Why is this happening?” whereas some are met with “Thank God it’s over.”
But they’re all bound by the illusion of time.
It’s all relative, but it’s all the same. Whatever it is you are either begging to last or dying to end is guaranteed to change – at least in some way. Pain may convince you that it will never depart from you but, eventually, something else will take its place. Love may deepen, transcend or be withdrawn. It’s always in motion, though.
This shouldn’t cripple us with sadness, however. Nope, not at all. Such reality is quite liberating, actually. It should inspire us to appreciate and love without reservation. It should provoke us to bury our faces in our loved one’s skin and memorize their unmistakable scent, feeling grateful that our mortal bodies gift us with such immortal experiences. And, truly, it should provide us comfort in knowing that the most seemingly unfortunate days, too, shall pass.
It should dare us to dance in the spring rain, to dig our heels into the hot summer soil, to roll around in the autumn leaves, to leave a trail of footprints in the winter snow and, most importantly, to play our restless little hearts away. Time is elusive and can never be tamed, but the beauty exist in the believing that maybe – just maybe – we can.