I became very aware a long time ago that life tends to imitate nature. I used to go and sit on the east shore of Lake Tahoe and watch the storms come in, because in that area, the storms almost always came from the west. As I watched the clouds move in, I would think about the clouds of life moving in. Storms sometimes bring with them great destruction. The weight of the snow and the high winds topple trees and power lines and damage buildings. The storms come through in winter and we do the best we can to clean up the messes as we go, clearing driveways and sidewalks of snow. But what happens when there is so much snow that there is no longer any place to put it? What happens in life when there are so many storms that crisis fatigue sets in? What happens when all hope is lost, when faith disappears? We do the same thing that we do when winter sets in.
We clean up the mess as best we can. Spring, and then summer, always comes. In life, when destruction occurred, I always strived to move through it with dignity and grace, to not do or say anything that would simply cause more trouble. That is sometimes easier said than done. And I’ve noticed that when the storms pass, the period of cleanup for me seems to take longer and be more profound. When the shit hits the fan in my life, my go to place is to shut down. And I shut down very well. I function, and I function well, but there isn’t a lot of feeling or emotion attached to the functioning. I just get the job done. But I’m not emotionally available, and there is an air of “keep away” about me. I know this, and yet while the process is going on, I, as of yet, have been unable to create any other way to cope with things. That shutting down is a very old and very powerful protective mechanism. It kept me out of trouble when I was younger. And still, sometimes, I’m not even aware that I am shut down. But that shut-down-ness creates its own set of problems and the grieving process simply will not be denied. In my case, my old acquaintances (I will not call them friends) PTS (and I will not call a normal reaction to shit happening in life a disorder, so it is Post Traumatic Stress), anxiety and depression come to visit. And because of the shut-down-ness, sometimes I’m not even aware of that. But I know this: continuing to do my inner work, continuing to allow the grieving process, continuing to lean into all the emotions, being gentle with myself, and simply and sometimes stubbornly not giving up, winter passes, just like it does in nature. And then spring comes, and with spring there is some cleanup, but there is also some new growth. In life as in nature. And then summer comes. Warmth, sunshine, new energy. And then fall comes.
This fall season we are having one of the best color displays in years. Every day I am newly amazed and grateful at all the different colors I see all around me. In the last 10 years or so, I’ve experienced some pretty heavy duty storms. And with those storms came the destruction. And the cleanup. And then the new growth. The new growth has been a new career, a new place to live, a new life really. And many major shifts in my thinking and my beliefs, which likely was why this particular set of storms came through. I needed those inner shifts. Now the grief has passed (as much as grief can ever pass I suppose), and I feel myself coming alive again. I’m feeling again, and I’m wanting fellowship and companionship again. I’m beginning to once again enjoy doing the things I love, which for a while only gave me anxiety while I was moving through the grieving process. Things like horse back riding and driving fast in my sports car on curvy mountain roads. I can feel that old “go away” energy changing, just like the leaves are changing colors, and soon, like the leaves, it will fall away and blow away in the wind. My new career is beginning to blossom. Abundance in all of its beautiful forms is beginning to return to my life. I see the current display of fall colors as ample evidence and a metaphorical example of the cycle of my life. My point to all of this is that if you are experiencing storms in your life, hang on. Clean up as best you can while the storm is going through, and know that it will not last. This too shall pass. Be gentle, and try not to be like me and shut down. Do retreat and lick your wounds if necessary, but try to avail yourself of help and support. Soon, the storms will pass. And you will once again be able to enjoy the cycles of nature, with a new sense of who you are and your place in the world. There really is beauty in change. Our job is to appreciate the beauty in spite of the change. In the meantime, try to enjoy this wonderful display of fall color.