Summer solstice is my favorite time of year but it also makes me the tiniest bit sad. I love the longest day of the year and revel in the sunlight. I love to be outside. I love the warm (yes, even HOT) weather. I love hiking and biking and the beach and eating outside. I love grilling. Most of all, I love the inescapable feeling of relaxation. The tone of every conversation and every interaction just seems to be a little less intense. I just love all of it.
I get sad when I realize that after today, the days will get progressively shorter as we march toward fall. Even though summer has only just begun, I feel sad that the beginning means an inevitable end.
I told a friend this and she remarked at how anniversaries always make her sad for similar reasons. The anniversary she celebrates with her spouse reminds her of a time when love was a little ridiculous, over-the-top, and nonsensical. Although it still is those things, it is also the mundanity of paying bills, taking care of a home, and making appointments. Not exactly the surprise flowers and dinners of a newly dating couple.
My friend told me that she tries hard to remember that the ending of each season brings the beginning of a new one - a season she has not yet experienced that will bring unexpected things all its own. She works hard to focus on celebrating those new experiences for what they are. She encouraged me to study the mums that fall and find the most beautiful ones as a way to stay present and find joy in the start of a new season without lamenting the end of the last one or getting so far ahead of myself that I dread a season I have not even experienced.
One of the inescapable facts of life is that every life comes to an end. We did not need a pandemic to teach us that, but all of us have more experience with grief in the last year than we could have anticipated. Remaining in the present moment and celebrating each experience can help us find gratitude and joy for the simple things - the positive with the negative, the fun with the boring, the new with the old. We only get one chance at this life and each day is new, unique, and unlike any other despite the petty repetitions that we mistake for predictability. Don’t let an inevitable ending trap you and steal your joy.