As we launch firmly into Autumn, I am reminded, as I am every year, just how much I dislike this season. I always thought it was because it marked the descent into the colder months and, being solar powered, I have never found comfort in the bitter winds, thrashing rain and bitingly cold temperatures that the UK offers. However, what I have realised over the years is that, whilst the pitch black mornings and even darker nights encroach, the weather betrays my desire for warmth and the never-ending nature of Autumn/Winter seem hopeless, it is none of the above which challenges me. No, what I find difficult is the very clear nod to change.
My first Counselling Tutor said to me on day one of my studies "As a Therapist, you have to learn to live with uncertainty". This is not something I can smile about wryly now; I still find change and uncertainty tough and nothing represents this more definitely than Autumn. It is, for me, the only season where every one of our senses is challenged to adapt to the seasonal shift. Our eyes witness the trees as they shed their leaves and are left as distorted wooden skeletons, our skin starts to prickle and tingle with with cold air, our noses are treated to the acrid smell of bonfires and burning effigies, the sounds of Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas are the soundtracks that mark exactly how deep we are in the wintry abyss and finally the only (in my opinion) pleasurable disturbance of the senses comes in the comforting food that this time of year has to offer....essentially anything which has pie attached to the name or pastry encasing a hot, steamy filling....
But what this does leave me considering is what our relationship to change is, and if like me, you and change could benefit from some couple's counselling, how do we make sense of and peace with this difficult time of year?
We could view it as nature's way of telling us that it is time to slow down, to restore and replenish all of the resources we have depleted ourselves of in the business of growth, which both Spring and Summer positively insist upon. We are forced to wrap up, hunker down and draw breath during these months. A time of contemplation, where we reflect on what has passed and put some of our more carefree, frivolous experiences of Summer into hibernation - if Summer is the carefree child, Autumn is most certainly the wise woman.
We could view it is an ending in and of itself, and with every ending comes grief, loss and mourning. Can we use this opportunity of a new season to rewrite our experiences of loss, so we learn in a gentler way how to lean into the discomfort that lack of permanency can bring.
"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end". I love this lyric from the song "Closing Time" by Semisonic because it perfectly encapsulates the idea every beginning comes at the expense of another experiences end.....we can not begin the new journey until we have reached the final destination of the last. Beginnings and endings are inextricably linked, and if we can't have one without the other, we must also hold the tension between the excitement of the new and the sadness of letting go of the old.
I am not sure that I will ever be ok with not knowing, but the irony is that the changing seasons are the one thing that we can count on in this uncertain world.