There is nothing quite so refreshing as a change of season. The changing temperature marks the passage of time, but not in a dismal birthday candle way. We gaze upon the first snowfall, or turning leaf with renewed wonder and thoughts of a world larger than our own daily reality. Those fortunate to live in a four-season clime, experience the joy that comes from a transitioning season. For just as you basked in the “first day of spring” or the first whiff of burning leaves, after three months, you’re quite tired of it all.
Adults don’t experience newness on a regular basis. We don’t have a new teacher every year, or learn a new subject every quarter. Unless we work in a very volatile field there is some sense of familiarity in what we do, day in and day out. We don’t exactly become gerbils on wheels (unless we choose to of course.) Our lives are rich and we pursue new ideas, adventures and activities. But our very existence is not dictated by growth and change. We are not given new responsibilities and allowed to do new and exiting things with each passing year (ex. crossing the street alone, going to the mall with friends, etc.) We (hopefully) don’t grow out of our wardrobe every year and get the chance to reinvent our look. Never again will we (organically) change from being a boy/girl to a man/woman. We are what we are.
For some this stasis is more unsettling than for others. No doubt you’ve witnessed men and women who seem to grab new personae and experiences with a certain franticness. (This tends to occur during the time we refer to as middle-age.) At some point they usually grow tired and accept that life might not be best approached with a checklist. Lifetime lists might make for good bestseller fodder (or films starring men of a certain age) but they are no more of template for life than being an Avenger or a Grumpy Old Man.
Everyone finds his or her own path to meaning and beauty. For some it is the path itself that guides their life. For others it is the appreciation of beauty (natural and/or person-made) that is the meaning of life. There are many that have neither luxury of course, and life for them is something to endure. But for all of us, no matter our personal quest, we share this world. There is something so utterly satisfying about a shared quiet smile with a stranger when the first robin is spotted. Some of the best conversations between strangers happen in a rainstorm. We grouse, we drip, we force ourselves to be happy for the flowers and water tables, if we’re lucky someone in the huddled cluster makes a Gene Kelly reference, and we all go on our way. To the lives for which we construct meaning.
Along will come the sun and dry out all the rain, and we will be off to beaches, mountains, lakes, and dreadful blockbuster movies played in mercifully freezing theaters. We will experience the indescribable joy of a shower after a day of sand and sticky seawater. We will dine or drink out of doors and declare; “we should do this more often.” The smell of suntan lotion or the sound of the ice cream truck will remind us of earlier times. Perhaps happier, perhaps not. But we will be reminded and that is good. Thinking, if only for a moment, of the past, makes us more present. We acknowledge that we’re still here and the game is still on. That is what the seasons do as well. That crocus forcing its fragile little head out of the frosty ground is in essence saying “I’m still here.” Isn’t that everything?