40: Coming to a crossroads.

- August 20, 2017 -

I don’t know what the seasons are like where you live, dear reader, but where I live we feel each one very intensely, and with a degree of irregularity not commonly seen in very many places.

(Our winters, for instance, are infamous for taking up some 6 or 7 months out of the year, to say nothing of their extreme cold.)

Although the calendar tells us that we should still have at least another month of warm weather to look forward to, here, we know that summer will start saying its goodbyes as soon as August draws to a close. By now, then, we’ve already started to reflect upon our summer to-do lists with some urgency, eager as we are to slot any remaining plans into the few days that have been allotted to us.

Certainly, there’s no getting around the fact that the end of summer is an ending and that, like all endings, it’s tinged with a bittersweet sense of remorse. This year, though, it’s an ending which I haven’t felt nearly so much as I have in previous years, when it really did feel as though something dear to me was being pried from my hands. No, this year, I’ve been viewing it less as an ending and more as a second beginning, a jumping off point for that which has not yet been.

You see, when we reach the end of some significant period and find ourselves faced with incomplete to-do lists and unmet goals, it seems to me that there are two ways in which we can react. On the one hand, we can scold ourselves for not getting enough done, for being too lazy or too unfocused or too busy doing other things. We can choose to value hours-put-in and boxes-ticked-off above almost anything else, and, in so doing, we can choose to focus on our lack of accomplishment.

On the other hand, though, we can just as easily choose to view that ending not as a discipline-laden dead-end, but as a crossroads moment — an opportunity, really — inviting us to reconsider our initial trajectory. We can use that moment to better reflect upon our original plans, to take into account the ways in which the intervening time has shaped our priorities.

An ending, I think, doesn’t simply have to be a time for us to regret the things we haven’t done, the boxes unchecked and the goals unmet. It can also be a hopeful time, a time for change, a time in which we acknowledge coming to the end of one path before beginning down another. It can be a time when we stop to consider whether or not the things we’d initially included on our to-do lists are still important to us, to weigh the many ways in which our beliefs or interests might have changed since we first came up with those lists.

And so, even though September is now just around the corner, I’m not at all worried about the many things on my summer to-do list which I didn’t get around to doing. Now, my only concern is for the few items which have been transferred over to my new list, for, few as they are, those remaining items are of great importance to me.

I’m more sure of my decision to pursue them, more committed to the task, and more eager about getting started — all of which is to say that, this year, I’ll be welcoming the fall season with open arms.


On to the next one,
– J


This piece comes from Jana Marie’s newsletter, The Sunday Letters. You can sign up to receive future editions below.