What are your precious gems?
It’s that time of year again. Autumn has arrived, energy is descending, things are slowing down and in certain parts of the world (North America in particular), minds are turning towards gratitude and thankfulness as Thanksgiving nears. In the U.S. at least, it’s a holiday fraught with difficulty, and yet it remains one of my favorite to celebrate, with food, friends and family being at the core of the celebrations.
Lots of people love this time of year. For some, things are cooling down significantly; for others there are spectacular colors in the trees to look at. Some people struggle with this time of year. With energy descending, shorter days and colder weather, it can be hard to maintain any semblance of motivation to keep up the daily pace. Since I’ve started taking notice of the seasons, I find I enjoy this time of year more fully as I now approach it with an intention of slowing down. This year I was caught off guard at the start of the season. I wasn’t ready for its arrival. It was tricky to appreciate the night’s drawing in and the cooler temperatures, as I was wishing for just one more week of late summer. Still, eventually I got there.
It was helpful for me to be reminded of the tasks of this season. As I talk about in my seasonal self-discovery writing workshops, the element of this season is metal. Whenever I say that, for some reason a sheet of metal comes to mind immediately. Except it's more - much more - than that. It’s the precious metals found in the earth – gold, silver, precious gems, crystals and minerals – that constitute the element of metal. So the tasks of this season are twofold: both letting go AND nurturing our precious gems, or that which is precious within us. Look closely and you’ll see this is exactly what’s happening all around us in nature just now. The trees let go of their leaves. The leaves lay on the damp earth and release any remaining minerals and goodness into the earth. These are then shaped and refined to be used as necessary in the seasons to come. This is what we need to be doing too: hanging on to those things that nourish us and letting go of the rest. It’s time to start gathering up our energy, like squirrels gather nuts so that we have enough energy to see us through the long, slow winter.
Figuring out what to keep and nourish and what to let go of is kind of like clearing out your closet, but hopefully less messy. It’s helpful to look inward, identify what habits, thoughts, practices, relationships, etc. are useful for us and which ones no longer work for us. A place to start this reflection is to identify those things for which we are thankful. So, really, thanksgiving comes at the perfect time. This year we may get the chance to gather together and share good food and company. If you’re preparing to do that – or something else – to mark thanksgiving, you too can turn your mind towards those things for which you are thankful.
I'll start. This year, I am thankful for friends, near and far, who have helped me manage through the difficulties the year has brought. I am thankful for the friend who walked 96(-ish) miles with me in all weathers, the friend who’s always there when I tell her things feel tough and the friend who sends me a yearly care package. I am also thankful for the time I spent outdoors this year as well as the beautiful scenery, feelings of peace and enduring memories that came along with that. And I’m thankful that, in a difficult year, I can still find things to be thankful for. The things I need to nourish, then? Time with friends who fill me up, making time to get outside, both by myself and with others, and my gratitude practices. I’m sure there’s more, but that feels like a good start for now.
Your turn, if you so choose. What are you thankful for? What are the precious gems in your life that you can polish and nurture in the coming months?