It usually starts before the Halloween candy has been eaten. Sure the Hershey bars and the Gummy Bears are gone but that vast pedestrian mix of Sweet Tarts and Laffy Taffy still remain. It is the first week of November and all thoughts begin to gear up for the madness of the Holiday season. And from the extra helping of stuffing on Thanksgiving evening through the parties that mark the month of December, and the vast arrays of cookies, pies and Honey Baked hams and Irish Coffee that they entail, we start looking for that magic date when we will get organized and start our diets and generally be the kind of person we have failed to be for the past 2 months of the year. The first of January beckons us to come and get right with all the things that are wrong in our lives. It is pointed to as the magic time when we can pull the raggedy ass car that is ourselves into the garage of New Years and drive out the next day totally repaired and renewed.
Businesses of every size and type take advantage of this universal belief in what new years’ resolutions can do for us. All the gyms run special deals and fill their rosters of the people who think that 5 minutes on the treadmill will make up for the previous 12 months of having the same amount of physical activity that a glacier has. Any restaurant with a salad bar is filled with people who think that an ounce of lettuce topped with eggs, cheese ,bacon and gobs of blue cheese dressing is considered a “healthy lunch”. You buy the planners, the exercise DVDs, the workout clothes, the healthy food cookbooks and every other organize your life accessory but the start cold reality is that what you are doing isn’t really change. It just ends up being consumerism and you can’t buy your way into being the person you want.
It’s not your fault. The timing of the endeavor is to blame. The depression of leaving all the fun, excitement , and joy that the holidays bring make it impossible to fully understand how to make the true steps to create the kind of life modification that we are looking for. So you walk in lock step with the rest of society and despite your best intentions find yourself failing to make the adjustments you need. I am right there with you, and the month of February finds me the same person as I was in November.
I have been thinking a lot about change recently and am discovering that the time for change isn’t in the bleak dark days of winter but rather in the bold sunny days that make Summertime what it is. There is no just ended holiday season that you feel repentant about. There is no mass of people who you feel socially obligated to join in their ill-conceived plans of change . There are no revenue driven plots by business to sell you “quick-fix” or “easy” paths to the alterations you seek. There are also not the pitfalls that January lays in front of us. No shortened days that are to cold to go out and get the things done that we desire. There are no mad rushes to catch up on the work at the office that the abbreviated schedules of December have sabotaged. There is also not the defeatism that haunts as us as we watch everyone else abandon the goals that they set for themselves just weeks before.
In the light of the Summer sun, we will succeed or we will fail in making the changes we need solely based on our own effort. There are no pitfalls, there are no excuses. We will change if we choose and that is the only way.
The more I look at it, the more I realize that Summer is naturally made for making modifications in our lives. It is the season of transitions. Most weddings occur during the Summer, and what greater change can one make than learning everything you ever did and said was completely dead wrong. Thanks to the joy that are Fall football parties and the liquid merriment that they bring, there are also an abundance of babies born in the middle of the Summer. Speaking of change, say hello to you new child and say good-bye to ever sleeping again. Those are just the grand changes that Summer brings, but it also brings more personal, quiet and subtle changes.
You don’t always see these changes coming, but they are there just the same. Watching as your child graduates from one level of school changes your relationship with them. Your shy elementary boy is now a middle school-er who starts to experiment with the self-confidence that growing older brings. The teenager that you drove to school is now a young women who seeks to create a life for herself in the adult world. Thankfully due to Summer, you have the extended days to journey with them through these changes and truly enjoy the joys that their maturing can bring.
There are career changes as well, either voluntary or instituted upon us , that we must deal with. The seasonal opportunities that the Summer brings allows us to seek out that new challenge and maybe take a chance at an opportunity that would never have been pursued in the dark days of January. These changes can be scary or exhilarating and their success in entirely in how we embrace them.
There are changes in our personal relationships in the Summer months that also happen . It’s about changing from someone being an acquaintance to becoming your friend. It maybe that of a father who is staying home with the kids all Summer and the difficulty that presents as he tries to find where he fits in if he is not going to work. There are the struggles of a mother as she has to trust strangers to watch her children as she works , without having the scheduled reassurance that the normal school year brings. Unfortunately, this time of year also brings a fair share of relationships in turmoil and the grand questions that this creates. Do we fix it, or do we walk away?
Watching our friends and families deal with this season of change is full of complicating feelings. Do we encourage the opportunity for someone despite that it may take them away from us? Do we try to help mend the fractures in the lives of people we can about, or is just being a listening ear good enough? Are we spending enough time with those who are suffering from physical ailments, or emotional stress? How far are we willing to go to help those closest to us make the changes that they so desperately need?
We must always be vigilant that the changes we seek in our on life is real and substantive. We are not talking about organizing a linen closet or losing 5 pounds but rather using the season and its inherent gifts as a way to take the risks that will result in becoming closer to the person we always knew we could be . This is the season of change. may it be everything we need it to be.