The Annual Cycle That Is Life

Leslie - Sarasota, Florida
Entered on October 11, 2005

Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in seasons. I believe that seasons are a natural and sacrosanct part of our lives, and to deny ourselves them is to deny our souls their necessary regenerations.

People in New England say that in order to fully appreciate the delights of summer, you must also endure the tribulations of winter. They say that without four–okay, sometimes five–months of biting winds that scrape your throat and slice your lips, you fail to give the sunlight that warms you from the outside in the adoration it deserves. Growing up in Boston, I always assumed this was just something we told ourselves to justify suffering through wind chills of thirty below and hours spent shoveling out our cars. But when I moved to Florida, I realized that this was not in fact some placating adage that lacked any real meaning, but that it held much more truth than I had bargained for.

It is now my first fall without leaves. The colors outside my window have not changed since the day I arrived here several months ago; they remain frozen in a landscape that changes only in the number of high-rises that pollute the horizon, not in the textures and hues that decorate a New England autumn. Can I even use the word autumn, when the only thing “fall” about my life now is the heading on my calendar? Would I know it was October if my father didn’t remind me to set my clock an hour back?

Seasons are just another reflection of the annual cycle that is life: birth, growth, maturation, and death. It is the inevitable transition from winter to spring that helps me cope with the figurative cold seasons that I face, like any other person. It is the primordial knowledge that “this too shall pass,” ingrained in my heart from a lifetime of watching the apple tree in my yard form its first buds, that mollifies even the darkest hours. Likewise, I feel a healthy urgency to milk as much joy as I can from every facet of my life, echoing my mother’s yearly autumn warnings to “get outside while the weather’s still good.” Without nature reminding me that dynamic highs and lows are, well, natural, I fear I will grow as stagnant as the thermometer that reads the same day after day.

It is true what they say–without winter, you lose sight of summer. I am starting to catch myself taking the endless summer that is Florida for granted. I am forgetting to get outside while the weather is still good, because I know it will be good tomorrow, and the day after that, too. But while my skin may be rejoicing in this beach-lover’s utopia, my soul is craving the red and yellow leaves that keep it honest.