My almost-9-year old (!) son Sunboy was moping. “My Pokemon cards are in Daddy’s car, and Daddy isn’t here,” he said. He tried to use this cruel oppression to his advantage. “Ice cream would cheer me up,” he reasoned.
I love to nurture my kids. I wrap them in blankets. But pleas of being bored or being made unhappy by circumstances gain no ground with me. “Use your imagination and find something to do,” I tell them when they say they are bored.
In this case, I told Sunboy, “We cannot do anything about the Pokemon cards in Daddy’s car. This is beyond our control. Thinking over and over about things we cannot control is called ruminating – it’s like a cow that keeps chewing on the same grass. Not having Pokemon cards cannot make you sad. Ice cream cannot make you happy. These are things and things hold no power. You are making yourself sad over one thing and making yourself happy over the idea of another. We can have ice cream when we get home, but I want you to think about this.”
Hopefully someday these ideas will gain ground with him, perhaps it will make sense one day when he is bored and left with his thoughts.
Regardless of whether you live in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere, many of us are in the same situation this time of year. Temperatures and weather have found their annual peak (cold or hot), and many of us feel weary with a desire for a change. I’ve heard the same cries from Australia and Canada: enough is enough!
Each winter, my husband counts down the weeks until crocuses erupt from beneath the snow. Last autumn, he planted a hundred crocus bulbs in our front lawn so we could watch them burst forth like a colorful celebration of spring.
Here in New England, the emergence of crocuses and snowbells are an early sign that the earth is awakening from months of cold slumber. At the time of this writing, he says we have “three weeks until crocuses”. Daffodils, tulips, and bleeding hearts follow the crocuses and snowbells like an orchestrated procession of blooms that lead us into summer.
I have taken his perspective a step farther.
February, I realized, is the same as August. Well, maybe not the same as August, the opposite of August. February is the anti-August! August is the anti-February! What kind of nonsense is this?
Both February and August occur two months after a solstice, which is the epitome of our distance or closeness to the Sun, respectively, depending on which side of the equator you live. Winter solstice occurs about December 21 and summer solstice occurs about June 21 each year.
I find it fascinating that when it feels that we are at the most intolerable, extreme situation such as a February or an August, we are already two months past the worst of it and are on our way back to a place of balance, the equinox. The story of the seasons is a great message for positivity!
Both February and August are also one month before an equinox: that twice-yearly moment around March 20 and September 23 when day and night are of equal duration. The equinox is when the see-saw of the seasons balances before the next season rises into being. The axial tilt of the Earth makes it feel like we are teetering back and forth, centered on the fulcrum of the Sun.
In February, remember how August feels and how quickly the season shifts within just a few weeks.
All of this to say — do do not be weary in February. We are at the bottom of the season, the very height of cold or hot, a month before it all turns around. Take heart, my friends…
Four-year old Flowergirl broke the plaster paw print casting that eight-year old Sunboy made at his camp session at the natural history museum. Yesterday he excitedly told us he would be making the paw print, and today he was pretty upset when it broke. “We’ll fix it if we can,” we reassured him.
I couldn’t help but wonder if the accident was, in part, a social experiment for Flowergirl. At her age, she is fascinated by the cause and effect of social interactions. I talked with her as we snuggled together in her bed.
“We are like an ocean,” I told her, “We rise together and fall together like waves. One happiness affects other happinesses just like one sadness affects other sadnesses.”
“How are we waves together?”, she asked.
“It’s like our feelings are attached to each other,” I said. “Some days I try to show happiness to everyone I see. I smile and people smile back. Before long, I realize that I really am smiling. Giving happiness made me feel happier. When I give happiness, I have happiness inside of me. The same is true of meanness. When I give meanness, I have meanness inside of me. Still, it’s not always easy to give kindness. This is something that grown-ups try to learn too. Try to think of a way to show your brother your kind heart tomorrow.”
“I will,” she said and fell quickly asleep.
I wonder what she will do tomorrow, and if Sunboy will be able to learn the hardest lesson of all: forgive as a way to find freedom, especially when you find that what has been broken cannot be fixed.
Descriptions of relationships and individuals, about anyone and about no one.
How would you capture a relationship in a sentence?
- The time you offered to drive my car across a desert, did you know it would be a metaphor for the rest of our lives?
- You hold a light so bright that the rest of us sometimes become singed in the brilliance of it.
- We were both without siblings and in that loneliness we each found a sister.
- The time you said you didn’t want to care for us placed a shadow over the times you did.
- Yours was the relationship I was most afraid to have, and in the end it was the relationship that clarified everything.
- If you had been born in a different body, how might you, your personality, have been different?
- In the “what-ifs” about us, the “what” was as much in question as the “if”.
- You thought I wanted to be like you, which only showed how little you understood what I wanted.
- We were two children, really, the first childhood for both of us, decades apart, which left no room for an adult.
- You were genuine and true, and in that warmth I could open the heart of myself.
- The things you saw in me were about my filters. The things you never saw in me were about yours.
- We were an unlikely pair, and the surprise of us made me have faith in the wonderful, unpredictable nature of the universe. Partaking in the promise of magic means letting go.