Living in the city, with its artificial lights and creature comforts, it is easy to forget that we live in a world run by cycles (especially for men, who do not come with monthly reminders of a bodily rhythm). Attuning to each cycle in the rhythm of our lives is access to a fundamental power. In the timeless words of Ecclesiastes, to everything there is a season. Spring-summer-fall-winter.
Our days have a rhythm. The potential and the possibility that marks the outset of each new day is followed the business of our workday, where we give our creative energy to the world, then a winding down and return to the place that nourishes us at end of day — perhaps, then, another cycle for our evening: a change of clothes, a celebration, farewells — and finally, we return to our regenerative dream state. This cyclical pattern is repeated in our week, our breath, the the arc of our lives, projects, stars, civilizations, …
We celebrate stages of the cycle that feel like springtime and summer: optimistic beginnings, a rewarding sense of accomplishment, the stability and comfort we have earned. The rhythm of life asks us to cherish these times, but not to inflate or cling to them. Our culture could benefit from more rituals in support of our passage into the inevitable fall and winter stages. All things-as-they-are come to an end. We all need time to regenerate before starting again, and oftentimes, a little support in doing so.
When we face the down-cycle, it can seem like something to resist. The ending of a phase of a relationship, hitting a roadblock and going to “Plan B,” the frustrating dead-ends that can come with artistic risk. So, we hold onto states to which we have become accustomed — until something breaks. We resist the natural rhythms that are here to guide and nourish us, which can lead to more volatility when the inexorable down-cycle comes.
In The Winter of Listening, poet David Whyte heralds :
in this cold night
of wind and stars
the first whispered
and invisible springs
in the still summer air
to be imagined
The fall and winter of each cycle is a time to regather our power. It is a time of letting go, of listening, of rest, of regeneration, of newly imagined possibilities. It is a time to call in the support of friends and loved ones, to ask for what we need. It is a time to loosen the ties of our daily habits and welcome the emergence of new patterns. It is a time to reconnect with the rhythm of life.
I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
— Rainer Maria Rilke