For me, October is an important time of transition. On September 22nd the sun crossed the equator’s path and positioned itself directly above the equator, between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. For a moment we experienced the perfect balance between light and dark, then the gentle slide into the shorter days of autumn began. As the residual heat of summer lingers, natures palate becomes deeper and richer. The tree kingdom offers up its annual display of changing colours, flocks of birds gather for the annual migration, and the abundance of the harvest reminds us to start preparing for winter.
As spectacular as the changing seasons are, transitions can be tricky. Throughout my recovery I have prioritised constancy over perfection, but by doing so have become attached to my habits and routines. Us humans have a psychological response to change, and as the natural world changes around us, we can also experience a range of feelings. Change makes us nervous. Academics talk about SADs, or Season Affective Disorder, which is often attributed to the impact of the changing daylight – but has as much to do with our modern lifestyles as anything else. The way we live isn’t very human, but we do it unthinkingly, retreating indoors as the climate cools. Four walls, social media*, artificial light, fast food, and fizzy drinks. It strikes me as a particularly toxic combination. Our ancestors seemed to have it right. There’s a lot to be said for open space, human connection, simple living, and nature.
I am no stranger to this celestial call for change, although I feel particularly attuned to it this season. I was recently talking to my friend, Bobbie, about the need to listen to our bodies, and respond kindly and appreciatively. Our always-on society does not acknowledge seasonal transitions – the light is always green. But we really need to heed our bodies call to turn inward, to reflect, to stay warm and seek comfort, in order to sustain ourselves and provide for others. As the world seems to spin out of control, it is more important than ever to give our nervous systems a chance to rebalance themselves. Try taking a break from whatever it is that is tripping you up and is sending you into a tumble. Then re-evaluate after a few weeks or months and make a decision from a clear and stable place.
We are persistently told that we must be alive for a reason, to have a purpose, when we are here simply to be alive just as nature is alive, and to be as beautiful as we are strange. Neither do we need to achieve anything in order to be valid in our humanity. This season why not interrupt your routine with something new. Everything we do that we that wouldn’t ordinarily do provides us with a new perspective. This month I have let go of a few things, have been spending more time by the ocean, walking in open spaces, and enjoyed my first experience of wild swimming (thank you Jen!). These were conscious choices, and despite a tricky period of tiredness and tough decisions, I feel better for it.
We are always in recovery, even if we think we’re not. Any detours from the pathway are part of the journey. Take risks and say yes to new and different, the puzzle is always coming together.
Everything is growth.
*The irony of me typing this on a laptop and sharing it via social media hasn’t escaped me!