Friday, November 28, 2008

Life Cycles

There's a phrase that people have been using in my life since the fall of 2003. Ever since the first time it was uttered it makes me cringe, and every time I've heard it since I get a funny taste in my mouth. Season of Life. This phrase entered my life once I was married. I entered this adult world with new social rules I didn't understand, rules that were never explained, rules that were defined by the statement; "they're just in a different season of life than you.'. This statement came to represent boundaries I didn't like, I didn't understand and I didn't want to accept.

The phrase hung around after we started having kids. I'm sure people mean it as an encouragement, another way of saying: 'Hang in there, this too shall pass.'. Changing millions of diapers, 2am feedings, being a human jungle gym-don't blink- it's just a season of life. After this phrase is used by the people you see on a regular basis, well, regularly, it gets personalized. No longer is it just a season of life, now it's the season of life you're in.

If this phrase rings a positive note with you, we will begin having a different Consider the seasons for a moment. There are only four of them, they happen on a regular and somewhat predictable basis. In your lifetime, (let's say 80 years as an example), you'll experience 80 summers, 80 autumns, 80 winters and 80 springs. When I consider those three facts the phrase season of life becomes depressing to me.

Let's equate the seasons with an emotion, I'm going to go with what I think is the general consensus. Summer-joy/contentment. Autum-nostalgia/hunkering down. Winter-depression/ surviving. Spring- expectation/excitement. I have to confess that I love winter and despise summer, but I think my point of view remains the same regardless.

You find yourself in the summer; happy happy. Days at the beach, family vacations, a lax routine, longer evenings, lighter meals, millions of pictures. For most summer is the season you long to remain in forever. But inevitably the days get shorter and the weather cooler. We start becoming nostalgic in the fall and wishing for days gone by. We hunker down and accept the impending winter and the trials that come with it.

Enter winter. Short days, inclimate weather, routines disrupted beyond our control, stuck in the house, isolation, sickness (let's not even start to talk about the boogs!). We begin trying to wish it away, looking to Christmas as our beacon that 'this too shall pass' and on boxing day we cross our fingers that every warm day is the beginning of spring. And finally spring arrives. Soon, soon, we'll be able to shed our clothers and spend more time outside and soon, soon summer shall be here.

I imagine that when people use the phrse season of life they don't literally mean they expect you'll follow the pattern every 365 days. I don't think they expect to spend one quarter of their life feeling joy and three quarters of their life longing to get it back.

Are you beginning to see how this phrase is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me? When one is in a hard time the last thing you want to hear is that there are more hard times coming. When one is in a time of pure joy you don't want to consider you might have to leave that state. When one is exhausted, dragging their feet, trying to merely survive, you surely don't want to imagine that one day you will be well rested only to become exhausted again.

Personally I prefer to think of life in phases. It's true that we will go through phases more than once, but never from the same perspective or experience. For example the newborn phase. Once you're there as a newborn, once (or four times) as a parent, and then as a grandparent. Same phase but completely different. I find that a much more encouraging description. The phases of life; you're born, you live, you die (loosely) rather than the seasons; summer, fall, winter, spring. I don't know about you but I prefer to live with the hope represented in moving forward rather than being caught in a cycle.

It may seem like a silly thing to dedicate time and thought to, but I think it's an intriquing point to consider how the language we use defines our perspective and opinions.


Lamb said...

Hey Amanda,
I don't think anybody likes to think of living life in cycles. At least, I don't. Yuck.I don't even think of life in phases(at least I don't think I do)

I try to grasp every moment and wring out everything I can and take every day as it comes with the knowledge that I am never alone and that God loves me. I know I sound like I am preaching.

I try not to let other peoples' perceptions of what I should be doing in any particular phase of my life and live the best way I know how. I find it sad how human beings place their own expectations on others. We are all guilty of that and it can cause untold friction and sadness.

Wow, now I am in a philosophical mood and mulling over how we all see a term like "season of life" from different perspectives.

God bless,
Lots of love,

Bloggy Mama said...

I like your idea of phases. I tend to think of it all as an adventure. Wonderful and tiring and I still wouldn't trade it for the world.

Amanda said...

I enjoy your blogs. I can soooooo relate. It is all in perspective a lot of the time I find. I think I relate to you so much is because we have kids the same age and have been married about the same time.

God bless ya babe