The thing about a season is that it doesn’t last forever. Sometimes it rushes in like a wave of rustling leaves carried by a hurried spring wind. And sometimes it pirouettes in like white clouds dancing across a blue summer sky. But just as quickly as it enters, it can bow out in the middle of the night kissing a yellowed moon adieu. There is always a sense of excitement at the dawn of a new season – the gem of rarity to break up the mundane. But it’s somewhere in the middle, or even toward the end, of a season when we grow weary and begin questioning the longevity and persistence of the season, itself, and of ourselves. Can we endure? How do we hold on to all the good in the season we are in while letting go, so we can move into the next? Contradictions.
I think back to all of the seasons I held on, maybe longer than I should have, when I was paralyzed by fear of the next season, of what was to come. There was a career I held onto out of obligation and a relationship I hunkered down into because of trauma and friendships I bantered with out of loyalty. Holding on to what was because it was known. And I think that’s the contradiction – seasons are meant to shift, to shift us. While they continue to transform the landscape around us, it is we who must learn how to loosen our hold, to allow change. Knowing it will change again, and that is all that can be known.
It’s in the midst of heavy seasons – big feelings, big thoughts, big shifts – that we forget to breathe. It is in the holding on, holding tight, fists clenched, breath held seasons that we are most filled with fear. I remember having the same fear on my daughter’s first day of school as I did on her last. Two completely different seasons, set apart by thirteen years, and yet I still could not breathe. There was the season I lost my grandmother, lost my breath, and it was a lot like the season when I sold my children’s and my home – seasons of loss. Contradictions – firsts and lasts. Beginning and endings.
What appears like strength – the clenched fist holding on – is really nothing more than fear, anxiety, worry, old narratives telling us how to live. It is in the letting go – the releasing – that our true strength is revealed. And we don’t just harness it for ourselves, we share it with those we love. In those core moments when we muster the strength to let go, we open ourselves to a new season of possibility. Letting go in this season has taken the shape of celebration – honoring my daughter’s hard work and cheering her on as she moves forward. It has been celebrating my own efforts in writing a book and allowing it to take shape as inspiration for others. Letting go of fear, celebrating what’s to come.
This is a season, just on the other side of holding my breath, and I am exhaling. It is there, in the slow and steady exhale, where we can embrace the shift into a new season. We can honor what was and celebrate what is. Exhaling is an eyes-forward movement; it is a releasing of fear. It is an untethering, a gentle shift into what will be.
As we shift into a new season, and as you move through your own season, may you find courage in the contradiction. May you summon strength to loosen your hold, to let go, to gaze forward, to exhale.