This article first appeared in my newsletter September 30, 2016. Click here to sign up to receive my online newsletter.
On the other side of the autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere, the days shorter than the nights, heading into the last quarter of this year, I’m feeling a curious combination of optimism, sadness, gritty determination, and a surprising sense of relief.
In my work and business life, some projects are at or near completion – I’m delighted and excited about that. I’m feeling gritty determination to move past some bad old habits and get on with a whole next phase of life. (An impending birthday has something to do with that. I really am in the later stages of this lifetime. Time to be a grown-up!) I’m optimistic that I have the motivation and the support to make good use of whatever time I have left.
Autumn is bittersweet – beauty abounds, but there’s sadness at summer’s end. Plant life is winding down, but schedules are cranking up with new activities.
In this autumn season, our extended family has had more than its share of illness and death. Two deaths have been expected for a while, but we didn’t know they would happen on two consecutive days. Even though we knew the deaths were near, I don’t know if any of us can ever really be ready.
The surprising sense of relief is that we are no longer waiting and wondering when treasured people will be leaving us. We don’t have to dread their passing; we just deal with it. We shift our attention to being there for the people closest to the ones who died.
It occurred to me that when something we have feared actually comes to pass, there is less stress than when we are still struggling to prevent it, resisting acceptance that it’s not in our power to prevent it, or dreading the inevitable. There is a surprising sense of relief and perhaps even a sense of peace when we can simply accept what is.
That reminded me of one of the important truths about things we fear. When we are able to confront fear, the thing we feared is almost never as painful as our battle to avoid it.