It’s 3:30 PM as the sun bears down on another hot day in Texas. It’s the hottest time of the day at the hottest time of the year. I can comfortably say that we’ve crossed over into late August. And for weeks now, I’ve noticed the sun setting earlier and earlier each night.
It doesn’t matter that it’s still summer. My senses immediately noticed the encroaching darkness and the twisted transition from a hue of blue to a hue of yellow as summer splayed her season’s best across the hot, heavy days. The looming prospect of fall jettisoned through my mind at the loss of the first few rays of evening light. Melancholy struck, and I spun in spastic fits to avoid its approach.
I knew I was feeling glum because of the shifting light. But my mind ran convincing stories about how inappropriate and misplaced my feelings were. “Yea, I’m having these feelings, but I can make them go away,” I thought. “I just gotta keep making the most of my summer nights.”
Off I went on nightly strolls. I doused myself in copious amounts of bug spray to try to enjoy my patio amidst the dark cloud of mosquitos. I doubled-back on my park going adventures. I even went to the pool! Take that, melancholy. *insert strong arm emoji here*
Oh, humans. It’s so funny how we avoid accepting our direct experiences in favor of the stories our minds conjure.
Why would it not be okay for me to feel melancholy?
Summer is supposed to be a happy, joyful, frolick-through-the-fields time of year. It’s when you swim in the pool all day, stay up late at night, and spend hours outside drawing with chalk on the sidewalk. Ah, childhood!
In many ways, summer is still all of that for me, but it’s also many other things. As I deepen in my relational awareness of the seasons, I sense new facets of this season called summer. Facets I once attributed purely to fall.
The melancholic response to the fading light is one example. For another example, every July I get the urge to start burning spicier smelling candles. But I intentionally hold off because my mind comes along and tells me that spicey candles smell too much like fall. And, ya know, I’m not trying to rush out of my “favorite” season. So, I wait.
I have resisted believing that these elements are a true part of my experience of summer. My mind had labeled them as strictly reserved for fall. And, until now, I haven’t been able to get beyond my own stories about what summer is “supposed to be” to allow for my actual, organic experience of summer.
How did I make the jump? How did I get past all my stories of how summer (and fall) are supposed to be and see my direct experience clearly? Well, I couldn’t have done it without a swooping synchronicity.
I opened an email from a woman whose emails I haven’t read in at least two years. She wrote about doing focused work amidst spider webs in her office in the setting of late August. And she went on to quote Thoreau,
“Especially in late August, when (as Thoreau wrote) ‘the year is full of warnings of its lateness, as is life.’
This time of year, he gets a little melancholy, that Thoreau. He saw late summer and early fall as the ‘night of the year.’ Time is closing in—on the year…”
I can’t make this stuff up. How did she know I was contemplating my feelings of melancholy sitting here in late August? And who would have thought that Thoreau could so easily relate to how I felt?
The Universe is awe-inspiring, isn’t it?
This timely note was the exact touchpoint I needed to unhook myself from my mind’s convincing stories. As I read these words, I laughed out loud and a bolt of electrical excitement shot through my body. Validation at its finest.
Finally, I was free. Free to see summer with clear, authentic eyes. Free to acknowledge my true experience of her; all spicy-sweet, baking in the heat of that setting sun. Free to feel the impact of the fading light. Free to experience summer anew year after year after year.
I acknowledge and appreciate the power of the mind as a significant tool. It helps build worlds. But I know it’s no master. It takes time, patience, and practice to tame the wild mind.
At the same time, I’m deep in the process of learning to lean into my lived experience and allow my feelings to be my primary guide. Learning to trust in the felt (direct) experience of life takes courage, especially when it doesn’t make sense. It’s a lifetime journey.
May you have the courage to trust your felt experience of life and allow it to inform and guide you on your journey. And may the rest of your summer season sparkle in the light of authentic expression.