A Lukewarm Winter
As unbelievable as it may seem, it has been a full week since Thanksgiving weekend and while I felt very productive over the four day holiday period, it felt like a bolt of lightning dropped out of the sky and catapulted me on the treadmill that is the official ‘Holiday Season’.
I’m a big fan of this time of year. Even though my birthday is in August, I’ve never been one for hot weather or even summer, for that matter. Give me overcast skies, and a little bit of wind and I’m content. Fall and Winter are my favorite seasons. Fall especially – it has a way of taking the idea of transition and making it palpable; everything feels like it’s on the precipice of change.
When it comes to the winter holidays, ever since I was a little kid I’d play Christmas music in July (much to my family’s distaste) and once Halloween came around, I always felt an overall sense of joy and excitement every day, from November 1st to December 31st. Plus, as someone who has always enjoyed a fairy-tale ending, what could be better than a time of year when giving and loving and happiness were considered the primary emotions?
So it has come as a bit of a surprise to me that this year I am not feeling particularly excited and joyful, as in years past.
It’s not that I’m exactly unhappy, I just feel a bit lukewarm, I suppose.
I could attribute my bleh feelings to any number of things:
– stress of work projects and scheduling
– stress of my grad school applications
– stress of the still unresolved lawsuit
– physical discomfort
(note the recurrence of the word ‘stress’…)
But then again I have so many things that bring me great joy:
– a wonderful partner (Dan is amazing)
– excellent friends
– great colleagues
– caring family members with good intentions
– decent health and well-being
So why the bleh, exactly? What’s different this year compared to previous years?
Well, I’m trying to figure that out.
I’ve spent the last few days on a business trip in California which, between the seminars, shuffling between locations, trying to work on projects, and brief periods in the sunshine, has given me moments where I can simply allow myself to think (airplane rides are great for that, by the way).
I wish I could say I’ve had a West Coast-induced epiphany, but instead I’ve had something else.
Remember when I said I love the Fall for its ability to bring change to life?
Well, I think that’s just it – I can’t appreciate the anticipation of change, because the pace of change in my own life feels flat; stuck if you will. I am moving forward in time and space, but at a pace I can’t relate to, or understand.
I know change is on the horizon – I may not feel the wind in my hair and a touch of cold or snow in the air, but I know I am planting the seeds for things to come.
I just haven’t made it through the tunnel yet. I can’t see what is to come. The future is uncertain.
To some this might not be earth-shattering, and I think even to me, it’s not a new idea. I know there are many things that I don’t know, and I recognize that I can’t predict, nor fully create my future, or even, my destiny (if you believe in that sort of thing). Even if I dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s, there is absolutely no guarantee as to what’s to come.
In some ways this is freeing – when you have less control over something, you can let go and just live. But for someone like me who is a planner by nature, letting go doesn’t come naturally. Neither does living in the present. I always come back to the ‘what’s the point’ argument, and if I can’t see the future, then how do I know what ‘the point’ is?
But maybe that’s the thing about ‘points’ – maybe they’re just not that important, or maybe, they are just something in and of themselves.
I think about this great line the Captain tells the Baroness in the Sound of Music – he says “activity suggests a life filled with purpose.” And I’ve got lots of activity right now, but I feel like it’s lacking purpose (in the professional/career realm, specifically). And I keep trying to find that purpose, but what I thought would fill that need (further graduate school), sometimes seems like the desires of a me from another lifetime. I’ve been effectively working towards this ‘next step’ in my professional life for the last few years and for some reason (or reasons) now I’m not sure I want to take it, or rather, take the path it presents. But if not, then what else? Because there has to be a purpose, right? Right?
Maybe life is trying to tell me that right now I don’t need to have ‘a plan’. That I can just ‘let it be’ (the Beatles said it best). And that maybe, just maybe, even without a plan, things will be okay. The Holidays will be the Holidays, and 2012 will bring another year, and I will continue on, and maybe (hopefully) I will regain some of that joy I used to feel, and that purpose I used to draw strength from.
Thanks for reading, S