THE SPRINGS OF YOUR LIFE
I am currently typing this article from a friend’s flat in London, over by Baron’s Court (if you know the area).
And I’m not going to lie, it feels a bit surreal.
You see, when I quit my job and started musing over this business, I moved to London to spend some time with my then-girlfriend (now wife).
And we stayed in this exact same spot.
For five weeks in Spring 2014 I sat in this precise place on this identical couch, wrote down ideas, and played around with what would ultimately become the site www.patstedman.com today.
It fills me with a lot of nostalgia.
In many ways that time was not only literally Spring, it was one of the “springs of my life.” A beginning of a new era.
We all have experienced moments like these.
How could we not?
It is part of what makes us human.
Like the world, our life goes through seasons.
There are times of sowing, times of reaping. Times of pleasure, times of pain. Periods of our life that feel an awful lot like the seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter.
And like the world’s seasons, the seasons of our life cannot be stopped.
Springs are times of possibility. Opportunities and paths, like flowers, are blooming. You don’t know yet where they will go, but you’re excited.
Summers are times of flow. You don’t look for other options because you are where you are supposed to be. Life is good.
Autumns are times of foreboding. Problems emerge, and it becomes clear the end of your current path is approaching.
Winters are times of reflection. You may be suffering or lost… or you might be at peace. But you are “in transition.” A new spring is yet to begin.
We cycle through these seasons, both on a macro and micro level in our lives.
(Indeed, the more you look at the universe, the more it becomes clear everything in life is cycles layered upon cycles layered upon cycles ad infinitum. Every spring has its fall, and every summer has its winter.)
A man may be a young, spry 18 year old in the “spring” of his overall life at the end of high school, yet also be in a localized “winter” when his girlfriend dumps him after graduation. He may be in mourning, taking some time to himself to reflect… anticipating the new “spring” of college in the coming months.
These “localized” seasons of our life are never entirely up to us. The man may not have seen the breakup coming. But they are the ones we have the most control over, because although we may not be able to prevent them… to a large degree we can control their length.
A winter can be weeks or years, depending on what actions a person chooses.
Everything must run its course. But how long that course takes is up to you. Do not abuse this agency.
Sometimes a spring is destined to last a long time. Other times it is brief, followed by a long summer. Some falls last a handful of days; others – like a decaying romance – may take years to run their course. Some winters are dark and deep, others are barely noticeable.
This is life. Not all seasons last the same.
Do not be concerned so much with the length of them, rather how they make you feel.
Your body – like the planet – is constantly telling you when it is time for the seasons to change.
Listen to it.
A man recovering from a breakup may need a good, solid winter to reflect and process the end of the previous cycle. But at a certain point – should that reflection and processing go on for too long – like a winter in nature, that “reminiscing” is no longer preparing the ground for life in a new spring but killing it.
You need to be aware of this trap. Many men fall deep into fear and stay in a season too long.
They use their agency not to nudge themselves into the season their spirit is ready for, but to prolong the previous one.
The result of this is painful and predictable: stagnation.
It is akin to swimming against the current. You may manage for a time, but you will not last forever. Fighting against a needed season change is exhausting, and takes a toll on your body and spirit.
Eventually you will either have to stop struggling… or you will drown.
Reality dictates the cycle of seasons must occur.
It is not optional.
And it is not reality’s fault you have not come to terms with this. It is yours.
If you are stagnating, the world is not to blame; you are for resisting change.
People die. Relationships end. Careers change.
Allow the cycle to move forward naturally; stalling does nothing but deprive you of a full life.
You know intuitively when a new season is coming; when it is time for things to change.
Every season has its benefits, and those benefits give you perspective on your world.
They make you life worth living.
People fear new seasons because they are averse to change. They fear what makes them uncomfortable.
This is silly.
Why fear what is inevitable? Springs of your life – along with summers, falls, and winters – are as natural and inescapable as the earth going around the sun.
A full life, like a full year, is filled with seasons. Learn to appreciate them all – not just the springs of your life.
You may be inclined towards the springs of your life, but if you make your life all about spring… not only will spring feel less enjoyable, but your growth as an individual will stall.
It is better to appreciate each season as it comes, accepting that all seasons – including your favorite ones – eventually finish.
Be grateful for the cycle and all the wisdom it provides.
And then… the new beginnings again.
Each of the seasons of our lives define us.
Transitional periods of heavy pain make us who we are as much as the times of lightness and bliss. Romantic relationships and frivolous flings each have their place, as do births and deaths.
After all, you cannot truly appreciate the good times without the bad.
So as Labor Day weekend falls behind the horizon and we look forward to a new actual, season, release summer and be grateful for all it’s given you.
And then, embrace fall.
Knowing all the while, it too will end.
PS As is clear from this post, I like seasons, and see them as a natural part of the world. Now you know why, despite you wonderful people harassing me about it, I won’t move to California. Wet vs dry does not do it for me 😉