The rhythm of our seasons is by now so familiar to me that I forget to notice the nuances. There are four acts to the calendar year, just like there are four acts to life. This ancient rhythm coerces me til I see the world in the four lenses; in parallel to summer, autumn, winter and spring.
Birth, growing, fading, dying. Living out our years is as if we stand at the centre of expanding concentric circles, season after season layered on top of the other. We live through eighteen cycles of the years but call it all the Spring of youth, before we are finally finished being born. Everybody likes that idea. Another 18 we spend in the idyllic Summer of adulthood, blooming as our fully-realised selves. Eighteen years in Autumn revealing a glorious show of colour as we begin to fade, saving our beauty for the very end. We remind ourselves what can be found in the final moments of every season. Still, no one likes the idea of a long death, no one wants eighteen years of dying. We try to rob death of it’s quarter-share, we give it the passing of a single breath. We try to live long and die quick. We stretch out and manipulate our seasons by how we count time. We fly away from winter.
If you are standing in the right place on earth, a season can change in a single breath. The Japanese recognise twenty four ‘small seasons’ where the earth pauses in place to gaze at the moon. They acknowledge each of the 72 breaths that form those micro seasons where the heat approaches, the heat sticks and the heat subsides. They count the earth breathing in and out three times and then turning her body slightly forward. Twenty four resting places and three deep breaths in each, always moving.
I think this is how we live and die; in equal, perfect measure. Balance. But it is not the seasons that change to keep the earth in balance in cycles of decay and rebirth. The earth moves herself to stay in balance with her life-giving and her dying. The seasons do not happen to her but Earth steps into them, breath by breath, back towards the moon and on towards the sun.
When the moon is high, I rearrange furniture and sleep with the curtains open, drenched in moonlight. I reorganise spaces in my home and in my mind for the work that needs to happen next. I choose to make new rhythms and practices so I can resist any temptation to get stuck in the previous breath. The temptation is heavy,
Sometimes, like yesterday, I find myself stepping into the rain that falls in the last breaths of the Autumn Equinox. First the thunder of the last twelve months began to ease, and the rain signaled me to adjust my sight to the next bend, to step into the next breath of the Earth. This rain is my final cleansing, a deep long breath after the heat of Summer.