I watched a squirrel carefully pick and partially eat a bunch of cherries from my cherry tree today. As I did, I saw three separate birds inspect a newly abandoned nest. They did so amidst a flurry of complaints from the bird that had been using it over the few years I’ve been here. Hornets buzzed nearby, and people walked their dogs. There was activity everywhere.
It’s summer and life is busy. It’s also obvious. I think these are the empowering notions of the summer season. It is the time where the work we must do is evident, and it is also the season that demands we get the job done. If we don’t, we won’t survive the winter.
We often think of winter as the month where we feel most starved, but I can’t imagine a more difficult time than waiting for the harvest. As we enter winter, we have a bounty of food to sustain us. That’s why we celebrate with gifts to welcome the winter season. The fall is when we build our stores, so summer is when we find our coffers empty. We must earn the sustenance we get this season. We must work for every morsel, and it must be enough to feed the hard work this season demands of us.
Summer is also the brightest time of year, so the work we must do is blatant. It sits in front of us like the nuts the squirrel must gather. If we don’t take advantage now, the opportunity will slip away. It sounds ominous because it is. Social survival has suggested that summer is a time to escape and play, but nature tells a different story. This is the season when we can make the most impact on our harvest, but it will ask a lot from us in the process.
Many of us like the idea of change, but falter when it comes to the act of transformation. It isn’t our fault. It’s a natural protective mechanism of the brain. However, as the excellent AA quote says, “If we want to change some things in our lives, we need to change some things in our lives.”
It’s easy to want the transformation in our lives to be external. We can want to change the world or change the way our significant other treats us or change our neighbor’s decision to build a giant wall that blocks our perfect view of a good sunset. However, another excellent concept in AA, taken from the Serenity Prayer, suggests that the only real change we can make is to ourselves. The first three lines of the Serenity Prayer tell us that if we’re wise, we’ll see we cannot control the world around us. We can only choose our participation in it.
As we move toward the summer solstice, we move toward a more active experience of making change. You probably already know what that change is. If you don’t, spend time now figuring it out, but do it quickly. You’ll likely need the whole summer to finish the work. As you do, it’s essential to realize that the change we’re looking for this season is less about discovering new opportunities and more about actually making the change. It’s time to get to work.
We can’t “do” in the past or in the future. We must look around our lives at this moment and say, “Where are my weeds? What needs to change? What work will be most beneficial to me in the end?” I often like to connect to the question, “Is what I’m doing right now living in service to the future I want to create?” If it is, clear everything else out of the way. Summer is as much about clearing away what doesn’t work as it is about fostering what does. Think of a garden. Imagine you have planted squash in the garden, but you have grass choking it out. It is as essential to remove the grass as it is to cultivate the squash.
This is the piece we sometimes forget, especially when it comes to the kind of change that is most important in our lives. We, as a species, like to talk about what we do. As we grow, we learn that what we do is not nearly as important as who we are. Still, who we are makes no progress if we are not consciously participating in what we do. It’s about ‘being’ who we are. It is also about what we ‘do’ while we ‘be.’
It might initially sound confusing, but it’s not. I hope today to make it simple.
The most beautiful thing about nature is how it gives. Plants bear fruit. Trees give shade. The sun shines on everyone equally. When you work to foster the best in yourself and release those thoughts or feelings or fears you’ve outgrown, you feed everyone. You give without needing to make any more in your giving than you do to breathing.
Take advantage of the season. Take yourself out into the bright sunlight. Let the brilliance shine into the deepest corners of your soul. Be willing to see yourself, both your limitations and your genius. Build one and not the other. Let’s make a difference in this world by having “wisdom enough to know” where real change happens.
I look forward to sharing the journey with you.