Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives they lived in the summer. They adapt. Wintering is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximizing scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.
Once we stop wishing it were summer, winter can be a glorious season in which the world takes on a sparse beauty…. It’s a time for reflection and recuperation, for slow replenishment, for putting your house in order. Doing these deeply unfashionable things — slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting — is a radical act now, but it’s essential. This is a crossroads we all know, a moment when you need to shed a skin. If you do, you’ll expose all those painful nerve endings and feel so raw that you’ll need to take care of yourself for a while. If you don’t, then that skin will harden around you.
It’s one of the most important choices you’ll ever make.
Katherine May, Wintering: How I Learned to Flourish When Life Became Frozen
Let us learn to appreciate there will be times when the trees will be bare, and look forward to the time when we may pick the fruit.
Most of us believe that we will spend seventy, eighty, ninety or one hundred years on this planet and then we’ll be gone. But when we look deeply, we see this is a wrong perception.
Your lifespan is not limited to seventy, eighty, ninety or one hundred years and that is good news. Your body is not your self; you are much more than this body. You are life without boundaries.
We are not limited to our physical body, even when we are alive. We inter-are with our ancestors, our descendants, and the whole of the cosmos. We do not have a separate self. We are interconnected with all of life, and we, and everything, are always in transformation
Thich Nhat Hahn, How to live when a Loved One Dies
Anytime we forget to let go, life will jog us back into remembering. There is nothing that we can cling to in this world. Ultimately, all that we hold dear will require us to let go, in some shape or form. That child will grow up and leave home. That love relationship that’s going so wonderfully? A new cycle will come, in its time. That friendship will change. That job you thought you’d always have? Oops, the company merged. Your position is changed.
Although long-term relationships and secure employment and living in that house feels good, remember, that’s not where your security lies.
Let yourself bond. Let yourself enjoy being friends with the best friend you’ve ever had. Be a loving parent, 100 percent. Throw yourself into that job with all your heart and soul. But your security and joy are not in that other person or job. [It}.. is in you.
I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn
flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – how everything lives, shifting
from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.
Mary Oliver, Fall Song
If as you age you become more still, you will discover that stillness can be a great companion. The fragments of your life will have time to unify, and the places where your soul-shelter is wounded or broken will have time to knit and heal. You will be able to return to yourself. In this stillness, you will engage your soul. Many people miss out on themselves completely as they journey through life. They know others, they know places, they know skills, they know their work, but tragically, they do not know themselves at all. Aging can be a lovely time of ripening when you actually meet yourself, indeed maybe for the first time.
John O’Donohue, Anam Cara