I was trying to figure out the other day where I was in my life’s “seasons”. I think we can quite confidently cross out “Summer”, those years between say birth to adulthood when time passes so slowly you can barely stand it, when a day at the beach is the best day of your life and your biggest hassle is trying to finish an ice-cream cone before it melts all over your hand.
Summer is all your school years, sleepovers at your best friend’s place, kissing posters of your favourite singer (Leif Garrett – what the hell happened?), then your first real kiss all awkward and wonderful.
Summer is excitement at every new level of independence your parents allow, wearing a bra, writing God-awful poetry and giving it to your boyfriend who really doesn’t have the first clue what you are trying to say. But if he really likes you, he’ll smile and say it’s great.
Summer is a pretty good season. Not everyone has it as rosy as that, and in-between are those stormy summer days of adolescent revolt, slamming doors, fights with your friends and heart-wrenching breakups.
Wearing a good sunscreen for the body, the mind and the spirit helps you get through Summer.
Then comes “Spring” and this is where I start to falter.
I really, really, really want it to still be Spring. I know it is the end of Spring, but I’m not ready to admit it is actually “Autumn”.
Spring is sensational. Your skin is still firm. Come to think of it, everything is still firm! Exercise is easy, you may not be able to eat what you like but you don’t have to be evangelical about it. Spring is about deciding what you are going to do with your life (which rarely works out but we will get to that later), it is about getting your first full-time job or choosing a university course. Spring is about weekends with your friends, leaving nightclubs when the lights come up, finding that someone you want to spend your life with, discovering you are not the person he wants to spend his life with, dealing with adult rejection and coming out the other end stronger and more sure of what you want in a relationship. Spring is bad fashion choices and photos that will make you wonder what the hell you were thinking twenty years on. Or the next day.
Spring is about travel with no ties, seeing which “skins” you want to try on, which ones suit you and which ones are a bad fit. Your Spring skin might be marriage and kids, it might be deciding you like a solo life, it might be somewhere in-between. Your Spring skin could be the career of your dreams, the job you have to take because it suits school hours or allows you time to follow your real passion, it could be deciding to stay at home.
Done well, Spring can be a sensational time in your life. Even done badly, it still has some great highlights.
And so we come to “Autumn”. Maybe this is why I love Brisbane so much. There really isn’t an Autumn.
We like to kid ourselves that there is a change of season, but when we look at the beautiful gold and brown leaves of the trees in southern towns and cities, the carpet they create, the rich mulch – that’s a real Autumn.
I do wonder if a strongly visual “change of season” helps people adjust to their own life cycles. Autumn in Brisbane is Spring without the humidity, but it is beautiful. It is my favourite time of year, here. The sun is gentle, the sun doesn’t rise at ridiculous o’clock, and a milder climate gives you just that bit more energy each day.
Why is it so hard then, to welcome my own Autumn? Is it because I know that at the end of this season, is my last season?
And yet, you have to adore Autumn. Autumn is the season where you are truly yourself. You don’t bother telling yourself lies once Autumn comes around. “Love me, or leave me” you say because you’ve learned that trying to please everybody is a complete waste of time. Whatever the other person’s choice, you wish them well. There’s no need for anger in Autumn, you understand life is too short for that nonsense.
Autumn is knowing you have been the best parent you could be. Not perfect, but life isn’t perfect and neither were your children. Everyone survived, perhaps even thrived. And there was always love – even when you yelling at them for the hundredth time to clean their damn room.
Autumn is acknowledging that your parents aren’t going to live forever. Oh, Autumn how we hate you for that. It is little things to begin with and then they are no longer little. But your gentle breezes soften our edges and we are able to better enjoy those “cup of tea” conversations, those snippets of their lives you have never heard before. Oh Autumn, we love you for that.
Autumn is those peeks backward, those fleeting glances at choices made. Autumn may have a tinge of regret but mostly it is knowing who your real friends are, knowing what type of wine you like and where you can get your favourite pate.
So I’ve decided that this year, I am going to step into Autumn with a greater sense of purpose. I’m going to wrap it around me like one of those dreadful snuggies (you know, the blanket with arms), kick up some leaves and enjoy!
Kelly Higgins Devine