By | November 10, 2016
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“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” (Ecclesiastes)

It’s November. One of the gloomiest months of the year here in my little corner of the world. I am somewhere in between the soft warm breezes of summer, and the howling bitterly cold winds of winter.

I pour myself a cup of coffee, take a sip and relax. I’m tired so I put my head back and I close my eyes. I find myself drifting back to another day, another season, another time – a younger and stronger me – alone in the snow covered woods of a January day not so long ago…

I find myself alone on a snowy trail in my most favorite of hiking spots. It is winter; the sun seldom shines in Ohio this time of year. Others become melancholy and blue in January’s incessant cloudiness, but I revel in it.

The dark overcast days bring a special sorrow with them, but it is a reflective sadness. A sadness that inspires introspection which brings an inner-peace. It causes me to ponder the nature of things and muse on the wonder of life.

The bonds of long shadows and dark gray skies will, to be sure, someday be broken by spring’s renaissance. Spring is the time, after all, when the world is reborn in the bright vernal light of the comparatively immortal star we call the sun.

Unlike most others, I choose to relish these dark gloomy days of winter. I will remember that this winter has but a short engagement on the stage of my life.

And it occurs to me, as I walk beneath the endless gray canopy of winter clouds, how very special and unique each life really is.

As I pass the leafless, snow-covered branches and occasional sad brittle bushes with bright, red berries holding on tenuously to them in spite of the bitter, shrill wind, I realize that life too, has its seasons.

The springtime of our lives is full of wonder. It is the wonder of a child exploring a brave new world, a world that has been thrust upon him or her for reasons no one understands and no one can explain.

Exploring new things for the first time can overwhelm a child; everything, even the tiniest insect or drop of rain is new. From the scent of a rose to the sight of the cloudless summer sky, the eyes and the senses of a child are absorbing everything around them, even if they are happily unaware of it.

The spring of life is the time that we become who we will become, and all we see and all we do becomes part of the person we will always be. We can’t empty ourselves of those sights, sounds, experiences, joys, sorrows, pleasures or pains. It is the time when we, like that first flower of spring, raise our heads and discover ourselves and our new world for the very first time. And these days and these feelings will forever be a part of us.

The summer of our lives is the time when we explore our world and learn the intricacies of it. Breaking free of the bonds of our own backyard and the shelter and safety of our homes, we become explorers of the world. The more we explore the more we learn and the more we know.

During the summer of our lives we are formally educated, decide on a career, fall in love, marry, and raise our children. Some call it the “prime” of our lives. If we are lucky, by the summer of our lives we learn what “responsibility” means and we take the full measure of it upon ourselves.

It is the time, also, when many of us become mired in the mundane duties and everyday challenges of daily living. Many of us cease our exploration. The endless wonders and miracles of the world in which we live, become buried in obligations, work, and that never-ending stack of unpaid bills. Some of us simply do not make or take the time to continue exploring the world… as the autumn of our lives swiftly approaches.

Fortunately, as we shall see, by the grace and the infinite wisdom of the Divine, we have one more season left to reach for the stars. One more chance to grab our sextants and gather up our dreams again and go forth to explore ourselves and the world all around us.

Indeed it is true: For some, the best is yet to come.

The autumn of our lives is a strange and haunting time. It can be a time of sorrow and a time of joy. It is the time when we realize that the number of days which we have left upon this Earth are growing shorter and our purpose is less clearly defined.

Our children have grown and found their own lives. We often discover that we have spent so much time acquiring material things and working and raising our children, that we have lost ourselves somewhere along the way.

The autumn of our lives can be a time of rediscovery if we choose to make it so. And sadly, it can also be a time when some  of us discover our usefulness diminished and our choices narrowed. Some of us will find ourselves limited by self-imposed restrictions and recalcitrant refusal to see the many paths which still remain open.

The truth is that the only limits we have are the limits we impose on ourselves. If we’ve learned anything by this time of our lives, we’ve should have learned that we cannot live our lives based on what others might think. If we do, we lose ourselves and become servants of the whims, and rules, and expectations of others.

Never believe anyone who tells you that you cannot do something because you’re “too old”.

The autumn of our lives can be every bit as exciting as the spring and summer were, but only if we are not dragging the heavy chain of self-imagined limitations around with us. Free from the unbridled passions of youth we are more free now than ever before to seek the ultimate potential inside ourselves.

And it is true that at any stage of life, the only places we cannot go are those places we will not go. The only restriction that age places on us, beyond the natural physical ones, are those which we choose to allow. We control our own lives only if we choose to do so. And we can only choose to do so if we truly believe we can.

It is the spring and autumn of our lives that are the most important, for these are the seasons of life that determine first, what we are to become, and second, what we shall do with the person we have become. You can choose to wither and fade. You can throw your arms up in exasperation and sigh that the years have passed you by — or you can embrace the autumn of your life as your own personal renaissance —  a time to remake yourself. A time for a kind of self-metamorphosis. You can, if you choose, celebrate your choices and let your mind sail free. An entirely new voyage awaits you and you are at the helm.

It’s also a time to let go of the past remembering that what has passed is in the past. We all make bad choices and we all pay for them. Dragging around guilt isn’t the way to enjoy the autumn of your life. Let it go and explore and dream today.

Also, by the autumn of your life, you’ve acquired something called wisdom. Wisdom is not taught in any school, and it never will be, because it never can be.

It is taught by the tough lessons of life. In the school of life, the tests are given first and the subject material covered later. And we all have learned a great deal from these tough and often painful lessons. By the time we reach the autumn of our lives, we all bear a few scars from these lessons.  Now, in the autumn of our lives, we can choose to move on and acquire more wisdom — or surrender to the passing of the years and simply fade away. We can keep on learning and growing, or we can wither up and spend the autumn of our lives waiting to die. The choice is ours.

A great many people accomplish great things during the autumn of their lives. Indeed, some never realize their full potential until they reach this stage of their lives. Laura Ingalls Wilder, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, William Shakespeare, Nicolas Tesla, James A. Michener, Leonardo Da Vinci, and many others, have achieved great things in the autumn of their lives. Henry Ford didn’t start the Ford Motor Company until he was almost 50 years old. You can say to yourself “I cannot do it because I’m too old” but that is just an excuse.

While it may be true that physically you cannot run a five minute mile at age sixty-five, you still can write a great novel, develop a brilliant new invention, paint a beautiful landscape, serve your community, learn a new skill, become a world-famous photographer, or help your grandchildren be better people.

Your choices and options are bounded only by your desire and the limits you set.

The winter of our lives should be the shortest season of all.

It should be that narrow stretch of road we reach only in the final months of our lives. It is a time when we should take pride in our accomplishments and enjoy the privileges that we have earned.

The greatest reward of life is being loved by others. And if we have done the right things, and we are loved by our family and our friends, we can gracefully accept that we have come to the end of one great journey… and are about to embark on another. We can sleep knowing that we never did grow old.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night
(Dylan Thomas)

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

2 thoughts on “Seasons

  1. James Sparks

    This is one of your best. Maybe it is because I am almost 84 years young. Love you and EB and hope you’ll have a blessed Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  2. Patricia Johnson

    Really enjoyed this piece, thank you. Beautiful prose, and very poetic!
    Hope it will be available on an e-disc with permission to use extracts in my own e-mails.


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