I’ve always lived in a place that has four distinct seasons. I spent the first three-quarters of my life in Kansas where the four seasons—sandblast wind, leafy wind, bone-chilling wind, and pleasant wind—are all about equal in length. The fun part about Kansas weather is that almost every season can temporarily turn into one of the others at a moment’s notice. We then moved to Minnesota where I used to joke we only had two seasons–arctic and gorgeous–each five months long, with one month transitions in between. Of course I was exaggerating…summer was not five months long. Now we live in the South, where it appears that the nice part of the year, which to me includes the hottest part, is the longest. I’ve always liked the change of the seasons because I generally like change, a tendency I’ve had to manage in my work life since not everyone likes change as much as I do.
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve also though a lot more about the old metaphor that the four seasons represent the seasons of life. While I’d like to think I’m still in the summer of my life, if I’m honest I’m at the bittersweetness of Labor Day weekend. Thankfully autumn is my favorite season. I hate to overanalyze that preference, but I remember being surprised a few years ago by that change. At the time, I told myself it was the spectacular, crisp Minnesota weather, combined with the urgency to enjoy every last bit before the long, dark winter set in. As I put this thought in black and white, however, I realize there could subconsciously be more to my change in preference. I’m finding new, unexpected joys in this stage of my life. I get as much satisfaction now out of my children’s accomplishments as I once did from my own. I’ve started reflecting on whether I’m really on track to leaving the world a little better place than I found it, whether I’ve given more back than I’ve taken. I’m not yet happy with the answer, but I’ve still got time. I’ve got all of autumn and even winter to anticipate and get done what I’m supposed to do. Autumn is, indeed, my favorite season.
“Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.” –Victor Hugo