Autumn arrived this week. The air feels crisp underneath the sunshine, everyone seems to be sporting sweaters or hoodies, and the weekend of torrential rain reminded me this is still the PNW (climate change not withstanding). Outside my house, the squirrels are storing nuts all over the yard. Inside the house, I am storing preserves from my garden harvest.
This moment of seasonal transition is bittersweet. Equal parts sadness that summer is over and excitement that holidays and hygge are just around the corner. Fall has always been my favorite season. I love absolutely everything about it from the food to the weather to the sweaters. And I will miss the summer sunshine and it's varied opportunities.
Every time I come to the end of something, I am reminded me of a poem I saw once on a bus:
I read and re-read that poem during my entire commute. I could not tell you where I was going that day or where I was coming from, but I was certainly in a period of major transition in my life. That poem felt like a little gift from the universe. A gentle invitation to reflect. And, in so doing, embrace the sadness for the end of a thing. Not just to acknowledge the loss of whatever is ending, but to hold that sadness even while a something new is growing up into the space left behind.
I feel like this year has included a lot of endings. The end of my naiveté around just how devastating the effects of our changing climate will be in my lifetime. The end of the blissful part of my ignorance about just how insidious racism and bigotry are in my community, this country, and the world. The end of my assumption that someday I will go to the grocery store without a mask on.
And while I mourned cutting the final threads by which my imagined sense of societal safety was hanging, I began gathering and storing supplies for the natural disasters and other as-yet-undefined emergencies coming in the near future. I became more fervent in my previously nonchalant desire to conserve water, energy, and other resources. We installed solar panels, changed to bulk soap in compostable packaging, signed-up for a supplementary recycling service.
I stopped being mad about racism, and got down to the business of fighting it. Continuing my anti-racist journey, I dug deeper and wider. I called out more public policy and organizational practices that support the status quo of inequity. I wrote to private companies about their racist products or thoughtless marketing. I supported striking workers. I read more books by and about humans of color and listened to more music by indigenous folks. Gathering and storing all those examples of people who look different than me having the same thoughts, feelings, and aspirations.
I lost all tolerance for the anti-mask-anti-vaxx humans prolonging this pandemic. When my gym closed recently, it was surprisingly devastating. I knew already that those zoom classes were one of the things keeping me sane and grounded during lockdown, but I didn't realize I also assumed it would be there forever. I cried for days. It felt like my best friend died. The end of that community caught me completely off guard, and so did the volume of sadness I felt at its ending. So I gathered all the workouts I happened to save from the last couple years and stored them to tide me over until some other version of that magical gym opens.
In my qigong practice, after moving through each direction we allow a circle of storing. It's one more pass with the arms feeling all the energy gather from the edges of our body in, toward our center (the lower dantian). Where it all begins and where it all returns to. The circle ends with our hands over our dantian, where we allow a breath and embrace an internal self-hug. In that moment we remember all that energy is stored and waiting for us any time we need it, and we have access whenever we want to remember it's there.
That small part of my practice is a helpful reminder that we are made of everything we experience. We carry all the parts of ourselves with us all the time. Friends, jobs, gyms, like many things, come and go. But I am always me. And I can be present for an ending even as I witness a new beginning. The thing that ends informs the next thing. Summer may be going to sleep, but we can remember it's warmth and abundance through the rest of the year. We can store it and shine it on the next beginning, whatever it happens to be.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.