Living in each season


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
'Autumn Leaf' photo (c) 2007, Myrrien - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, 
and resign yourself to the influences of each.” 
- Henry David Thoreau

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”
- Ecclesiastes 3:1

I don’t know about you, but something about that first snap of cool fall air triggers in me all those latent domestic inclinations I’ve been missing the rest of the year, and suddenly, I want to bake. I have to bake. I need to bake because I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to pumpkin recipes that I’ve been staring at after midnight each night, the white glow of my computer emanating in sad contrast to the warm glow of the perfect photos. 

Fall is my favorite season, and I like to embrace it - football, apple orchards, deep blue sky above, crunchy leaves below, sweaters, campfires, football, pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters, reds and yellows and oranges, football. There is an excitement to autumn, a back-to-school thrill, a sense of starting. We got married in October, and I carried crimson calla lilies down the aisle.  I love the way the months of autumn sound on my lips--September, October, November--like they’re regal, like they’re trimmed with gold.

I want to live in this season, to breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign myself to the influence of every moment. I want to curl up in a blanket, sip cider, and stay home for a while.

...Which is why I’m so pissed off this year. 

This year, fall is not a season for baking pies or cooking out or going to football games; it’s not a season for breathing the air or drinking the drink; it’s not a season for bringing Pinterest boards to life. Instead, it is a season of deadlines, of a bulging inbox, of traveling to 15 cities in 4 months, of late nights at the computer, of comments not working (sorry! we're working on it!), of missing workouts at the Y, of letting the house slip into disarray, of barely keeping up. This is a season for a big book release.

“Maybe we’ll get pregnant and I can finally take a break,” I said to Dan between sobs a few nights ago.

“Hon, I don’t think a baby counts as a break,” he said.

It’s funny, isn’t it? How we can make ourselves dissatisfied even with our dreams-come-true, how we always think the next season will be better. 

Were this a season of domestic tranquility, no doubt I’d be longing for adventure - a plane ride, a big date, a new place to go. Were this a season of nursing and nurturing, no doubt I’d be dying to get the hell out of the house. 

What I’m learning this year is that sometimes the season in life doesn’t quite line up with the season in the air, that seasons can arrive before we’re ready--carried as if by a sudden storm, a change in barometric pressure,  a surprise frost. Life has its own calendar, and it doesn’t always correspond with our Pinterest boards, the liturgical year, or the calendars of our family and friends. 

But maybe that’s what Henry David Thoreau meant by resigning ourselves. Maybe the whole point of seasons, in life and in weather, is that sometimes they march on without our consent, without our permission, and that other times, they linger longer than we would like. All we can do is resign ourselves, to  be carried along by them, to embrace them as they are. For not long after they pass, we we long for them again. 

I might not experience the joy of pulling hot pumpkin bread out of the oven this season, but I can resign myself to the joy of peering out an airplane window to make pictures out of the clouds. I might not catch every Alabama game this year, but I can resign myself to the fun of meeting new people, eating new food, seeing new places, hearing new music, learning new things. I might not get to curl up with a fat mug of hot chocolate in hand to watch movies every weekend, but I can resign myself to sinking into one of those nice king sized hotel beds after a long day...knowing someone else paid for it!

I might not be deep-cleaning the house, but I’m crossing states off my list. I might not be meeting my domestic goals, but I’m meeting my career goals. I might not be writing poetry on the back porch on crisp autumn morning, but I’m signing books at an author’s table, just like I’d always dreamed, and I’d be a fool not to enjoy every second of it. 

What I had romanticized about in the past has arrived in the present.  I just have to resign myself to this season's colors and tastes and rhythms and smells before they too pass away. Because they will. 

Living fully in this season makes the missed flights and the late nights all part of the adventure. 

Living fully in this season makes me less jealous and more thankful. 

Living fully in this season keeps my ego in check because I know my time in this season is limited. 

And living fully in this season, I think, will make the next one even sweeter. 

***

So what season of life do you find yourself in now? Do you find yourself longing for a different one?

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