It’s interesting to look at the seasons as a way of learning about our own life cycles. Every year, we experience Nature as it goes through its own characteristic life cycle. Starting with the buds bursting into new life in spring, it moves into full, vibrant expansion in the summer, to then slowly decline in the fall and lie barren during the winter. For sure, spring and summer are more inspiring to us, as they display the growth and expansion part of the cycle. Fall and winter, by contrast, represent the decline and death part of it, and this seems less easy to accept somehow. But a cycle, by its very nature, contains both halves: without the second half of ‘fall and winter’ we would never arrive back at spring. Of course we can dream about eternal spring as a paradisiacal kind of steady state, or about continuous growth and expansion as an ever increasing line going up and up and up. But we’re then not dealing with cycles, we’re talking about straight lines.
There is a lot of investment in our culture in making us believe that everything could develop along a straight line of expansion, whether it’s our own personal growth or that of the economy. This is appealing, of course, because everything seems to get better all the time. There would only be gain, and we wouldn’t have to face any loss. Is that true, though? Is that really how things are? What if cycles are better models for understanding how life unfolds?
I won’t go into the economy or politics, as that’s really not my field of expertise. I do know a fair bit about the dynamics of our inner life, though, and my experience is that people have a really hard time when it comes to accepting loss. Loss is inevitable as a cycle goes into its ‘fall and winter’ part and thus towards its own end. Friendships, relationships, or partnerships may move past their prime and eventually fall away, and jobs may be lost as part of a greater economic cycle that starts declining. There’s no denying that loss can be very painful, but it can be comforting to realize that as one of our cycles comes to an end, others may be in full expansion, and yet others are ready to start off. When we accept that our life has its own seasons and cycles, we’ll be able to follow it more graciously into its falls and winters, just as we will naturally enjoy and celebrate its springs and summers.
So this fall, as the leaves whirl in their last flamboyant dance, we could look whether there are cycles in our own lives that are moving into fall, as it were. We can check with ourselves whether we’re willing to go along with that movement or whether we’re resisting it. For sure, peace lies in letting Life lead us in its own unfathomable dance.