I wrote a little thing yesterday, and then as often happens, the subject I wrote about continued to pop up throughout the rest of the day. Call it serendipity or some weird version of confirmation bias, but it happens often.
The topic was the seasons, or more accurately, how four seasons don’t seem like enough, and how living within a rhythm of smaller seasons might make more sense.
It wasn’t long after that I came across a little quote from Brittin Oakman, a poet of sorts on Instagram that I’d never heard of before:
Every season is one of becoming, but not always one of blooming. Be gracious with your ever-evolving self.
That got me thinking about the seasons in terms of slowness, of patience. Of not always having to be racing towards something and just letting life happen, like a flower blooming in the spring or, consequently, dying in the autumn.
Because even dying is a form of becoming.
According to the sekki, we’re in the midst of “Soko,” wherein we experience the first frosts and maple leaves turn yellow. The next small season will commence on November 8th with “Ritto,” which is the start of winter and marked by the ground beginning to freeze.
What a perfect time for slowness, for patience, for allowing life to progress at its own pace for once.
In my scrolling and reading this morning, I came across this piece from Kottke, quoting a Kurt Vonnegut graduation speech given at Fredonia State College, in which the great humanist writer argues that the four seasons we generally recognize aren’t enough.
One sort of optional thing you might do is to realize that there are six seasons instead of four. The poetry of four seasons is all wrong for this part of the planet, and this may explain why we are so depressed so much of the time. I mean, spring doesn’t feel like spring a lot of the time, and November is all wrong for autumn, and so on.
Here is the truth about the seasons: Spring is May and June. What could be springier than May and June? Summer is July and August. Really hot, right? Autumn is September and October. See the pumpkins? Smell those burning leaves? Next comes the season called Locking. November and December aren’t winter. They’re Locking. Next comes winter, January and February. Boy! Are they ever cold!
What comes next? Not spring. ‘Unlocking’ comes next. What else could cruel March and only slightly less cruel April be? March and April are not spring. They’re Unlocking.
This made me recall the twitter account I follow called Small Seasons, which follows the sekki, or 24 seasons used by Japanese and Chinese farmers prior to the Gregorian calendar. Small Seasons even has a widget to put the sekki on your calendar, which I’ve found to be helpful in trying to slow down a little this year.
And you can pair Small Seasons with the teacher and writer Matt Thomas’s blog post from a couple years back about living life more in concert with the seasons.
Fall is a time to write for me as well, but it also means welcoming—rather than fighting against—the shorter days, the football games, the decorative gourds. Productivity writer Nicholas Bate’s seven fall basics are more sleep, more reading, more hiking, more reflection, more soup, more movies, and more night sky. I like those too. The winter will bring with it new things, new adjustments. Hygge not hay rides. Ditto the spring. Come summer, I’ll feel less stress about stopping work early to go to a barbecue or movie because I know, come autumn, I’ll be hunkering down. More and more, I try to live in harmony with the seasons, not the clock. The result has been I’m able to prioritize better.
Prioritizing and finding a more natural rhythm in life are a couple of things I’ve been trying to be better about lately. Given the current hellscape nature and pace of the world, it seems paying a little more attention to that might be helpful to a whole lot of people.
As of 2:43 this morning, I have completed my 39th trip around the sun. Today is, in the realest sense, my new year (and I don’t feel any different).
Reflection is natural on a day like today, and while I’ve been running through my normal workday routine and commute thus far this morning, I did take a few moments to try to quiet my mind and take stock of life a little. I’ll do this more intensively this evening, once I’m home from another normal day in the office and a birthday dinner with my favorite people.
And what I’ll find when I do finally get some time to think is that I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be in life. What I’ll ask myself is do I feel like a damn adult yet? Do I feel like I’ve improved, like I’ve made any progress? And the answers will be no. Does anyone ever feel like they’ve grown to that point? Does life ever really get any easier?
I am not as virtuous as I’d like to think. My life isn’t as put together as I try to make it appear. I can be a much better son, brother, uncle, and friend. The divide between who I am and who I desire to be is still rather wide.
But I think acknowledging that chasm between the life you’re actually living and the life you aspire to is the whole point. If it didn’t exist, what would motivate you to get out of bed in the morning? To formulate goals, identify wants, plan for better in the future? It’s the chasm that keeps you going. It’s the chasm that keeps you hopeful.
So as another trip around the sun begins for me, that’s what I’m focusing on. The hope that perhaps this year will be the one where I shrink the chasm, where I come closer to being the person I want and need to be and building the life I envision for myself. It’s all about the hope. That’s what will be keeping me going.
I haven’t written in this space in quite some time. It turns out that professional responsibilities, familial obligations, and staking out time for personal pursuits and self-care don’t leave much time for blogging.
I’m not sure when (or if) I’ll return to blogging here. But please check out my “Who Am I?” page for a quick bio and contact information.