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The Nature of Things

“Ahhh” she said, collapsing down into her lawn chair. She threw her head back and closed her eyes. Her day had been filled with yard work. They had tilled the flower beds for new annuals, pruned the bushes, cut the grass and so much more. Her body was tired, a good tired though, the kind of tired that comes from fresh air and warm sunshine. She opened her eyes looking around the yard. Everything looked so fresh and green. The birds were flitting about, here and there, gathering bits and strands to build their nests. The pond was glittering as the sunlight danced on its surface.

As tired as she was, she didn’t want to go inside yet. Winter had been long, cold, and wet. During those frigid months it had been the thoughts of those long spring days that had kept her going. Now, she had every intention of enjoying every last minute of them.

Thinking about the seasons, she couldn’t help but tip her hat to mother nature. Not all would agree with her, but living in New England, she felt blessed to experience four distinct seasons. Each season, offering a different perspective and lesson about life here on earth. There’s spring, one of her personal favorites, which allows her to watch the dead earth begin to breathe and rise again. Small green sprouts, initially appearing so small and weak, push fearlessly through the dark soil. This season always reminded her that great new beginnings are on the horizon, that with a little love and light things can grow. She can grow.

Autumn, she felt, is the opposite of spring. The earth has a damp and moldy smell. The vibrant greens, wholesome blues, and cheerful yellows of spring and summer are replaced with deep reds, fiery oranges and supple browns. Despite the fact that life is slowing down, disappearing, and for some objects in nature dying, she has always found it beautiful. There was something about watching warm leaves flutter down from the highest branches that warmed her soul and somehow so gracefully brought a beauty to change. The rustle of dried leaves always seemed to whisper to her memories of a life well lived and enjoyed to the fullest.

Thinking, she became aware that despite their differences, spring and autumn were in a way similar. Both seasons offer up a warm sun and a cool breeze. Both are seasons of change, a time of metamorphosis where all living things, herself included, are moving from the light side of life to the dark or vice versa. A vision of a pendulum appeared in the front of her mind. These transitional seasons, she imagined, act as a pendulum, swinging all of us at times reluctantly, back and forth between the light and dark side of life.

Almost as if mother nature was ensuring the stillness she was enjoying, her cat jumped up onto her lap. Stretched out along her legs, purring away in the late afternoon sunshine, she knew she wasn’t going to be getting up any time soon. So she continued on, listening to the world around her.

So, if she was the mass at the end of the pendulum swinging through spring and autumn, then the farthest sides of the pendulum’s trajectory must be summer and winter. She noted her love of summer with its long warm days. The notion of endless happiness that came so effortlessly with every sunrise and sunset. Even as an adult she always felt excitement bubbling up inside of her when she would listen to the crackle of a campfire or watch the flashes of lightning bugs dancing through the trees; all while a warm breeze fluttered across her skin. Life just always seemed to be in full bloom. She knew she wasn’t alone in the idea that it was often easier to appreciate the little things or find a silver lining during this time.

However, on the other side of the swinging pendulum there was winter. As a New Englander she would spend a lot of time staring out the window asking herself, “How can a space like my beautiful yard be the same and yet so different?” It was her least favorite season with its lack of warm breezes, no fireflies, or even color. It seems like a cruel trick. “Why on earth would mother nature allow this? How on earth could this be vital? What could possibly be learned? Couldn’t this step just be skipped?” she pondered.

“There it is!” she chuckled lightheartedly to herself. The bigger idea she had been working towards; life plays out exactly how the seasons do. She realized that we're all just going about our business during the spring and summer seasons of our lives thinking to ourselves, “This is great, I am finally where I want to be and nothing can stop me!” We feel the sunshine on our skin, giving us the power to keep moving forward. But before we know it, the pendulum starts swinging and suddenly we're staring out the window at the winter seasons of our lives asking ourselves, “How can this be?” Like the view from our window when seasons change, it’s all the same yet it suddenly looks and feels so different.

The sun began sinking lower in the sky, bringing her closer to the first days of June and shortly after that, the longest day of the year. A glorious day in her opinion. She couldn’t wait to officially usher in one of the most vibrant life filled seasons of the year. She knew now though, that from the moment we hit that equinox, the days would begin growing shorter. “Why don't we notice? How does this detail seem to pass us by?” she briefly wondered, quickly realizing that the answer is plain and simple. During this time she is too busy living life to the fullest to see that the pendulum is already swinging in the other direction. The glowing light of happiness, blinding her from noticing.

It is almost the same, she realized, with the winter equinox. Instead of celebrating the longest day of the year, this one celebrates the shortest and darkest day of the year. She always dreads the dark cold months that follow. It seems to be all she can focus on, continually pondering when spring and summer will arrive again. Wondering how much longer she can handle the dark cold days. It almost feels like she reaches a point of desperation each year where she’d do anything to get away from it. But, she realized that she was again missing something. The moment we hit that shortest and darkest day of the year, the following days actually begin growing longer, lighter.

Just then she heard mother nature whisper on the breeze, “There is always going to be good and bad times. It's just the nature of things. Your perspective however, during these good and bad times, can and will make the difference in how you live and experience this journey called life. During the good times, be present in the moment, soak up the light and love all that this world has to offer. If you sit around thinking about the fact that the days are already getting shorter, you will miss out on a beauty that is so short lived. Remember, you can't stop change! The pendulum is going to swing, so enjoy the ride while you can. Take in every ounce of light and reap the rewards of your hard work. And when that pendulum swings the other direction and life begins to look bleak and colorless, keep your eyes on the prize. Remember that things may look and feel terrible now, but the days are already growing lighter!”

There in her lawn chair, with the last rays of sun on the horizon, she believed in the awesomeness of the world around her. In the idea that the moment we enter the darkness we begin walking towards the light and that she is the sprout that will push through the earth, even when it seems impossible. She smiled knowing that most of the time all we need to know is already innately found in the world around us, and that when times are tough the pendulum will swing again.

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