Growth is painful, isn't it?
After all most of us have bought into the motto "no pain, no gain".
The times I've grown the most in my careers have been painful moments. The require me to humble myself and take in the feedback from those moments to grow.
Even in my personal life, the most growth is experienced in painful moments.
It's almost as if those painful moments serve as wake up calls.
An alarm for the hibernating bear.
The crucible of winter
Bears enter hibernation in winter. Their bodies go into a deep state of dormancy where their heart rate and breathing slows.
The idea is that the body needs to save it's energy as the food supply drops during such seasons. Hibernation is an act of survival.
Hibernation is something not just bears do. Plants and trees enter hibernation as the season shifts to cold.
I love this passage first seen on Austin Kleon's blog. He shares it from Katherine May, who wrote a book called "Wintering".
Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Winter is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximising scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.
What a great season where life withdraws to be reborn. Outwardly it seems barren, but life continues to build that capacity for fruitfulness, ready to pounce with the shifting seasons.
You can't optimise growth
I recoil at the idea of optimising life. Of making the most of wasted time, doing only those that are deemed valuable.
But you can't optimise growth. You can't optimise seasons of rest and dormancy.
There is a time to flourish. Many seasons in life are like that.
But there is also a time to remain dormant and rest.
Rest is severely undervalued in a world that worships the god of optimisation.
If all of life is meant to be optimised, God would have not rested on the seventh day.
Instead of working hard against the winter, it is time to prepare. Prepare for winter by learning and absorbing.
Read a lot, reflect a lot.
Spend time journaling and writing down your thoughts in the winter of your lives. Capture these moments because they are precious.
Don't feel the need to create but linger.
A life in season
Life is a compilation of seasons.
We go through them and even give them a name; quarter life crisis, mid life crisis and so on.
Again, quoting Katherine Mary:
We are (…) in the habit of imagining our lives to be linear; a long march from birth to death in which we mass our powers, only to surrender them again, all the while slowly losing our youthful beauty. This is a brutal untruth. Life meanders like a path through the woods. We have seasons when we flourish, and seasons when the leaves fall from us, revealing our bare bones. Given time, they grow again.
I'm experiencing my first winter now and have observed this tree that's just outside my house wither, leaves falling and become totally barren.
It signifies a changing of the seasons. A sign that change is in the air.
When you see someone who's leaves have all fallen, and who seem in a barren state, don't encourage them to optimise their lives.
Celebrate the winter. Celebrate the dormancy. For new life will come again.