The air is breathing, short and sharp with the freshness of its chill. The days are starting to feel the premature cut to their lazy long glory of summertime. And I’m feeling the bite of the cold, like the affections of a lover whose touch is no longer desired, whose presence is a distraction from the dreams that are lingering just at the periphery of my vision as I rouse slowly from the stormy clutches of night.
Verbs such as aching, yearning, pining, do not do justice to the deep craving I feel for the warmth of an equatorial sun, caressing my skin, tangling its rays deep into my hair, and permeating the very marrow of my bones. Down and down, into my soul. As though I wish it to scorch away every lingering pain and sorrow that lurks in the shadow realms within me.
As the seasons change, as we slip into grey days characterised by a flood of weeping tears from the heavens, it is easy to dip into melancholy moods. Yet wishing for an eternal summer cannot change the here and the now, cannot change the cyclical laws of nature that dictate: this is the time to slow down, rest, reflect. Hibernate.
And yet, humans seem to have such great resistance to following natural rhythms – such as the seasons. Instead, we are caught in a constant battle to alter, manipulate, and conquer our physical environment, at the macro and the micro levels. From the way we have constructed cities that leave little breathing space for nature, to the way we lead our daily lives. How many times have you walked into a building in winter, to find the heating so intense you could wear flip flops and a T-shirt? Or the opposite: in summer, offices air-conditioned so cold that you need to rug up with a scarf, and could imagine yourself sitting in front of a blazing fire with a hot chocolate. What about the way that we insist on eating a myriad variety of unseasonal food all year round, fruits flown from the other side of the world, anaemic from the journey? Why can’t we be satisfied with what we have right where we are? What is it that compels us to not only change our environment, but run in constant search of something that is beyond the here and the now?
It seems to me that there are a number of issues here, and perhaps a plethora of ways to rationalise our behaviour. But in my view, much can be explained by the way that we, as a society, have lost touch with our natural world. And given that we are living breathing organisms, part of a global ecosystem here on earth whether we like to acknowledge it or not, ultimately the consequence of living so out of tune with nature is that we lose touch with ourselves. This then leads to internal conflict and dissatisfaction with our reality – whether we consciously realise and acknowledge it, or not.
There’s no quick fix to resolving these problems. There’s no pill to cure the headache and anxiety of inner turmoil, no vaccine to guard against the effect of natural rhythms that we label an intrusion into our lives. Personal wellbeing and happiness is in symbiosis with our external environment, and we need to work simultaneously on internal personal development as well as our relationship with the outside world in order to resolve the discordant patterns of humanity’s existence on the earth.
Going back to my musings on seasonal change, let’s think for a moment: why do we have a disposition to feel melancholy when a positive environmental influencer (such as sunshine) is taken away? It could be because at the internal level we are in fact, deep down, dissatisfied with our own lives. An empty hole within us is exposed when the distraction of a beaming blue and gold sky disappears beneath a fog of clouds. This, combined with an unhealthy perception of our external environment that associates grey and gloom with something negative.
Let’s try to work on the latter – on our perceptions. Let’s try to appreciate what each season of the year gives us. Days of rain and cloud can actually be moments that offer opportunity for quiet reflection, introspection, and quality time with ourselves, to work on our internal relationship with self. To heal and process feelings that we have suppressed, to reflect on our lives and whether we are living in accordance with our values, perhaps work out what those values are in the first place.
Flipping through some journal entries the other day, I found a poem I wrote back in Costa Rica, most probably just before the strike of a vicious rainy season storm as the clouds were rolling in. Now, cold and shivering in the autumn air of Europe, I am reminded that even in the tropics we cannot escape moments when nature tells us to go to our room and reflect.
Watching the spiral of
Those shifting clouds
Inner and outward
Obscuring - or
From the vicious
Radiance of the Sun,
Sometimes too bright
Force of brilliance
We are not always ready
To see straight on
So don’t curse those shadows
And the days of pelting rain
They come, to bring respite
Moments of rest and integration
And in darkness,
To share appreciation
On the life that
We are seeking
(28 August 2020)
So let’s start to shift the way we perceive rainy days. And let’s turn inward, focus on how we ourselves can grow into better humans. In turn, we can cultivate our own sunshine, so that we can tap into bright energy and carry it with us wherever we go, instead of projecting unhealthy expectations for our external world to be a certain way for us. Only then can we find true contentment and be at peace with our surrounds.
We can waste our time thinking the grass is greener somewhere else, and chasing rainbows to sunnier pastures. Or we can relax and tune in to the rhythms of nature, finding the beauty in whatever present meteorological gift is presented, appreciating the unique aspects of every season.
For grass to be green, it needs both sun and rain.