On the heels of a challenging meeting at my job this week I messaged a coworker about how she had reacted when someone treated her in a way that wasn’t OK with her. “You know what I really admire about you?” I said. “You don’t hesitate to tell people what is and isn’t OK with you. You always stand up for yourself. I have a hard time with that. I’d rather just complain to someone else later and hope the problem solves itself or something.”
She responded that when she hit 50 she stopped caring what people thought and started saying what needed to be said.
In short, the season of bothering with that stuff was over. The season of taking a stand had belonged.
As I read this message from her I looked out the window from my desk. It was a grey day — one of those that makes you think winter will never, ever end. But the light was higher in the sky than it had just been a few weeks ago. I could see that things were starting to change from dead winter to the hope of spring.
The season is changing. Winter is sneaking away. Spring is coming on slowly but surely. Too slowly for me sometimes. But we know it doesn’t care about how I feel about it’s speed. That’s an entirely different podcast episode.
I grabbed sticky note on my desk and wrote “people have seasons, too” and stuck that where I could see it the rest of the week. Because I am a person who thinks that if I have started things one way, I need to go on that way. I resist seasons. I don’t want change.
What’s going on outside my door these days, that gross wintery day notwithstanding, really is a sign of the seasons. Spring in Alaska is erratic, and it would be a mistake on this fine day and February to say that spring is here, because it’s not. But is here is the hint of spring. Even as I record this there’s a spring-like juxtaposition happening outside my window. On the one hand, it is a bright, sunny day and the sun is magnified as it reflects off the snow. This is how it will look in about a month on an actual spring day as it sits in a very warm feeling 25 degrees, everything melting, the smell of wet and fresh and mud and hope in the air.
It’s how it looks right now, but it is not how it is. Instead the thermostat tells me it’s maybe 8 degrees outside. Bright but cold. Nothing is melting. If anything it’s freezing more than it was yesterday. Overnight it will be free your nose hair weather. Spring is not here. But spring is coming.
If you live somewhere without drastic seasons, you still know that outside life comes and goes with patterns. Even growing up on a beach in Northern California I knew that winter meant angry waves and rain; summer meant foggy and 55 degrees and the coo of mourning doves; fall meant pleasant sunny days spent body surfing; spring meant bright sunshine breaking out to shine against the puddles on the pavement.
Seasons aren’t something you can control. They just happen. You can predict them. You can ride their waves. You can take them as they come. But you cannot stop them.
So why am I so resistant to the idea that people have seasons, too?
I know what would happen if I resisted the seasons outside my door: chaos. Or rather, outside the door would be fine. But I would be in chaos. I would be trying to control something that is beyond me. I would be angry that it didn’t work they way I wanted it to or that it had failed to live up to my expectations. And that would be really silly.
So why do I resist the idea that maybe the seasons of me and the seasons of you aren’t just inevitable, but welcomed?
Because if I change my thinking about it a little, if I read the sticky note and really accept that people have seasons, too, what we have now is a whole lot of freedom.
If people have seasons, too, it’s OK for you to be done with one type of adventure and move on to a new one. It’s OK to be a runner today and a skier tomorrow. You’re not quote abandoning an interest. You’re moving to a different season. You’re not having an identity crises, you’re season is changing.
Seasons change. People have seasons, too.
And it’s OK. It’s always been OK for the trees and for the grass, for the birds and for the mountains. So it’s probably OK for me, too.
Even while my indoor life season is in flux, my outdoor season right now looks like a lot of skiing and enjoying the snow while it is here. Even though I’m looking forward to summer weather — you know I am — leaning into what I’ve got makes now special too. I have been eye-balling the area of the backyard where I know the fire pit is, but the snow is so deep I don’t think digging it out is going to happen any time too soon. Pretty soon I am going to take the boys on a cabin adventure, and I am saying that out loud because it’s going to be a pretty big challenge and if I tell you I’m going, I’m less likely to bail. Thanks for the accountability.
You can see photos of all of my outdoor exploits on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. I want to see your photos too, as always. Tag them with #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.