Every morning I drive the 45 minutes east from my home to the school where I am a Principal. It is a beautiful drive along a quiet country road. As the sun rises, the silhouette of the forest becomes darker, the pastures where cows lazily graze become brighter and the fields, white with snow or green with crops are illuminated once again. It is the best part of having such a commute. I love having the time to reflect, to consider how I want my day to go, and to mentally prepare for whatever is going to happen…after all, I am a high school principal – we need to be ready for anything.
I love sunrises, but I also am in awe of the beauty of a sunset. I don’t know what it is about dusk that I find both beautiful and sad, but seeing the world glowing in the various colours of the sky and then going dark reminds me of the shortness of each day, and the relative short span of our lives.
Items #41 and #42 are to watch a sunrise and a sunset. Specifically it was to do so with my spouse, which is easy to say, but not so easy to do when your spouse is NOT an early riser. So, I did watch both the sunrise and the sunset in the same day, and at some point will do so with Nancee. As I watched the sunrise, I was struck with an overwhelming sense of newness, of promise. The world wakes up, and anything is possible. The promise of a new day is that no matter what yesterday brought, today is a fresh start. Maybe that is why I love the sunrise so much. However, watching the sunset, that time I have often felt sad about the end of the day, I was hit with a huge feeling of hope. The sunset marks the end of day. It marks the letting go of whatever happened in that day. How amazing is that?! The world lets go of the events of the day. And so can I. No matter what has happened, I can set it down, let it go, and hold to the promise of new opportunities tomorrow.
Thinking about this rhythm of sunrise and sunset has led me to think about other rhythms of life. Seasons change, and nature adapts.
Animals and plants rest in winter, when they need to rest. They awaken in spring and thrive in summer, having found a renewed energy. We, too, frequently feel like we need to rest in winter. Yet often we ignore the signals our bodies, we who are part of the natural world, are sending us. We push through the times we should rest. We don’t play when we need to play. We work too hard. We don’t feed ourselves lovingly. Ignoring these patterns of life keeps us holding on to feelings of inadequacy and the need for perfection. It keeps us tied to relationships that do not serve us well, and in some cases, relationships that actually harm us. It keeps us doing work we do not love, instead of seeking work that is our calling, that gives us a sense of purpose in the world.
Instead, let’s consider how our lives might work if we were willing to let go – of the day’s events, of the expectations we have for ourselves and others, of the relationships we desperately keep trying to fix, of the job that drains us and does not feed us. What would happen if we cared for our bodies the way the trees and animals do? What if we rested when we were tired? What if we fed ourselves to nourish ourselves? What if we flourished and fought when we were ready and filled with the energy we needed? And what if we stopped beating ourselves up for being human?
I have been reading a few books that appear contrary but I believe work well together. The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up and The Book of Hygge are both about how we create the kind of home and environment we want to live in. In my next post, I will share how I believe we need to create the kind of environment that allows us to live, rest, nourish ourselves, connect with others and find peace within ourselves. I look forward to sharing that with you.