Another summer is past. With that, an opportunity to reflect now, in the present, about the future rather than wait until January to make resolutions around how we want to live our lives. Not to mention, summer is hardly on our minds while wrestling with the aftermath of Christmas and digging our cars out of the driveway.
What are our thoughts and feelings about this past summer? Did we “do” most of the things that we planned? How happy are we on a scale from 1 – 10? How did this summer compare to the last and previous summer? Do we feel rested or exhausted? Relationships became closer or further apart? Was our recreation with a lessor or greater footprint? Was our consumption of food and drink more or less pleasing to us and our bodies?
As the plants and animals around us transform, leaves turning colour, falling to the ground to replenish and nourish the soil. Birds and animals frantically fattening up from the sunflowers on our farm to prepare for winter or the journey, thousands of kilometers south. Insects in their last stages, preparing cocoons in warm, dry places away from predators readying for the cold months ahead. We also, though unaware because of our artificial environments of heated and lighted homes, are going into a transformation. As the amount of sunlight lessens and the temperature changes, our bodies start needing different foods. An excellent example is how attracted we are to things like hot oatmeal and heavy soups in winter and have little or no desire to eat cold watermelon.
Unfortunately, because we live in an essentially “unnatural” world, we find ourselves disconnecting more and more from the “natural” world. This is in part due to the extreme availability of creature comforts like pineapples in winter and air conditioning in summer (all of which is ultimately created and brought to us through the heavy use of fossil fuel).
I strongly believe the key to creating a future that is more wholesome, healthy and harmonious is by consciously choosing to become more aware of ourselves, those around us and the world as a whole. I personally know of no better way than to reflect in the present moment about the past and use those reflections to envision the future as to how we want it to look. As the old saying goes, which is often used in regard to mistakes made in politics, war and finance, “those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” My personal favourite is, “the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.” Having turned 50 in June, it has become yet more important to me that I make my summers, and years as it were, count. I need to know that I have utilized my “life force” that has been alloted to me in the “cards that I was dealt” more effectively each year.
I think the second element, together with reflection, would be changing the way I think and see the world around me. To paraphrase Einstein, you cannot fix problems using the same kind of thinking that created them in the first place. For example, so many of us have become quite “stressed out” as a result of our busyness. We then attempt to remedy our stressed state by “getting away” (from the present), taking a trip or holiday which amounts to another kind of (and yet more) busyness, resulting in yet more stress!
Spring, summer, fall and winter are all times of change and transformation within us and all around us. As we engage ourselves more consciously and deeply in the world around us, we will become more connected with the rhythms in nature. And we, ourselves, can then be more in rhythm with the natural world rather than being dictated to by the unnatural world that we have created around us.
The other day we purchased a few fish to put in our pond and rather than “just” putting them in the pond, we layed on our stomaches and took time to emerse ourselves in the pond (no pun intended), noticing at least nine different life forms! After 20 minutes of being in total awe, wondering aloud, “where did they all come from” (water beetles, snails, larvae and numerous unidentified swimming things), suddenly, I had a memory which I felt sheepish, embarrassed and even ashamed about. A number of years ago, when I first installed the pond, some relatives would visit regularly and complain that they couldn’t see the fish. My natural response at the time was to remove the fish, drain all the water out of the pond, vacuum out all the muck, then scrub and rinse until is was cleaner than the kitchen sink. I would then replace the pots of lilies and fish and fill it with clean water. Afterward, we would wonder why some of the fish would die, because we didn’t realize that we were radically changing the ph of the water, which also made the pond an impossible environment for the current myriad of creatures!
The tendency within humans and animals is to become very habituated and comfortable in our velvet rut, whilst wondering, even out loud to those around us, asking “why are things this way?”. What is lacking in this equation is the next step… “how do I want to change the way things are?” Like with the pond, how is it that I am currently thinking, thereby creating (in this case) the death of the fish and the subsequent lack of biodiversity. What do I need to do differently? If something is not working for us, other than habit and the fear of change, what is the value for us to continue on our current path? Whether the micro of our diet affecting both our health and that of our family’s or the macro of our over-consumptive diet of fossil fuels and the material goods we create and purchase which further distances ourselves from the “natural world”, resulting in a disconnect between our actions and the rapid slide of the continental ice sheets into the ocean.
We all have an innate knowing and a fundamental responsibility to reflect on our current situation in this moment that we have created by our past actions. The challenge before us is to ask ourselves and those around us, openly and honestly, how is this working for us? What do I need to do differently right now to create a new and better future? This requires that we slow ourselves down internally and externally, becoming more present with our true thoughts and feelings about ourselves, our relationships, our work and our way of seeing and being in the world. From this place, we can choose to consciously make changes that result in a greater sense of genuine harmony within us and our world that surrounds us. This will result in us leading, living and enjoying richer, fuller, deeper, more meaningful lives.
Dirk Becker is an organic farmer, agricultural advocate and public speaker who gives workshops on many topics incuding how auyervedic body types and birth order affect our communication and relationships. www.dirkbecker.ca