The dog days of summer are nearly over and twilight lengthens, dissolving into cooler evenings. Some places in the garden are getting that summer fatigued stoop and the mind lightly turns not to love, but to football!
This is the perfect time for setting out the fall bloomers so the land will not become suddenly, depressingly colorless. From the 9th floor of my building I note the topmost maple branches blooming, dreaming about spinning their cups into gold. My thoughts light like the first emerging monarch butterfly upon how time is hurrying to the end/beginning of the Earth’s circle dance around the sun. With that idea in mind, I start turning in at the craft store more often, planning the next seasons’ home decor.
Autumn is coming. Is the light fading at work? Is there a little less joy when the commute ends in the parking lot? Are fewer challenges presenting and every project old news? At the top of the salary grade for the position?
It may be career summer’s end. Start collecting positive evaluations.
How much did your sales influence the company’s bottom line? Can you quote numbers for your resume update?
What quality of work did the team under your watch produce? Do you have graphics to prove it? White papers?
What did the clients say? Can you get those glowing reports in post-able form?
Is there a digital album of the “best of the best”–the sweetest fruit–in words and images?
Is there a Linked-In profile update working? Are other companies watching you?
Like the first tints of gold on the Maple leaf, that comfortable, but slightly itchy feeling may be the first sign of stagnation at work. When the “light” or the “passion” shifts in a career or a job there comes a “summer fatigued” feeling. It may be time to do what my mom used to do when summer’s best was all over the kitchen table, at its peak and abundant: start canning, preserving and making wine. Start capturing the best of career/job summer before the frost of disaffection comes.
It is too easy to dismiss this very long, very dark, very cold (In the northern part of the globe at least) season when everything skids to a rude end and collapses into lifelessness. Has death won? Look again. Winter is really where things begin. Beneath her icy quilt the silent land is dreaming of spring. Bulbs need winter to gain strength as they wait for the first thaw. I remember bringing home a packet of heather seed years ago that failed to grow. Though I passed the seed for specific times in and out of the refrigerator according to the directions, none of my doings could never mimic a Scottish winter. It has always impressed me how the rose of the highlands links arms with winter in a circle dance of thaw-harden-thaw that actually promotes growth.
We humans also retreat into some place of warmth in our hearts and minds during the earth’s winter and in the winters of jobs, careers and lifetimes in a massive, pensive moment of resting, rethinking, dreaming and planning. Naturally a slow time, winter is a magic season perfectly suited for healing, recovery and regaining from loss; where the reweaving of broken dreams and ideas for entirely new forms happens. Days are mercifully short and nights languidly extensive enough to work things out privately, away from summer’s blaring noise and frenzied activity. We do, because of our natural fear of darkness, periodically distract ourselves with gaudy, artificial glitter at this time. However, this is winter’s real work: making a quiet space for memory, analysis, evaluation and reformation. It is the time we stockpile deep wells of creative energy to fuel the ardor of the coming spring .
Everything is “bloomed out” by the end of harvest. Summer’s warmth has hopped the last train out of town and everything left looks so tired and sad and boring. Good thing All Hallows Eve comes in late fall. October on the earth, in a lifetime or in a career is a good time to buy a fright mask because it’s the time when “being yourself” starts to feel like being the starring monster in a horror movie. A pall of gloom spreads over the soul the moment the conclusion comes that the old “self” everybody knows has changed. Let me explain what happens with this bit of the tale of the Butterfly Sister:
A big, fat , yellow and black caterpillar, driven by voracious appetite, crawled out to the tiniest twig on a branch. She felt something inside her was happening, but could not tell what, so she kept eating, hoping it would go away. Just as the caterpillar stretched for the last leaf dancing tantalizingly just out of reach, the twig snapped. The caterpillar dropped through the branches and plopped down on a bed of springy fallen leaves. She shook the surprise out of her head and lifted herself slightly to get her bearings. As she started back to the roots of the tree she fell out of she felt whisper light feet land very close by. “Who are you?” the caterpillar asked the creature with huge wings edged in yellow and black lace. “I’m your sister”, the creature said. “I’m a butterfly and after you change, you will look like me”. “Well, my butterfly sister”, the caterpillar answered curtly, “Do you mean that I will change into you?” “No”, the butterfly said, “You will change into more you because you are already a butterfly inside. To make your wings come out, though, you have to go through your change. You will always be you inside, no matter what you look like outside”.
So it is in a lifetime; so it is in a career. Autumn, then, is the beginning of the awareness of the need to allow an older form to fall away, so that a new form with wings, the original vision of you, can finally take its place.