I’ve always had a sweet spot for the summer solstice with the long, glorious summer days that surround it, but only in the last couple of years have I gotten curious about how the solstices and equinoxes play into life’s rhythms, cycles and celebrations. This summer’s solstice is extra special for me. Not only does this week mark the year’s longest days before they gradually begin to shorten into the slowing momentum of fall, winter and the end of the year, but next week also marks my 40th birthday, the one traditionally hailed as leading into the slowing momentum of middle age, older age and death.
I can’t believe I just wrote that.
That’s my state of being lately. Awe. Astonishment. Wonder. Is this for real?! I can’t believe I’m my parents’ age. I can’t believe I have grays sprouting like I do. I can’t believe my joints prefer walking to running. I can’t believe the wise looking face staring back in the mirror is really me.
But this disbelief is also mixed with relief. Thank God! I can finally slow down and stop the hustling I’ve been doing since the spring days of my youth. Days spent tilling earth, sowing seeds, beating back pests and fiercely manning my garden. Spring days of competition for the richest soil, the perfect fertilizer and just the right amount of sun. With the experience of 40 years under my belt though, my garden has been planted, it’s growing nicely, and I can slow down and more tenderly mother my fertile patch of earth.
Like our northern hemisphere, I too am entering the more relaxed summer days of my life.
Now is the time to be a little more deliberate about lounging in the hammock, enjoying life’s lemons in sweet lemonade, watching the clouds by day and stargazing the night away. This is the time to reflect back with pride and acceptance and perhaps more importantly to look forward with greater intention and focus, for as it is with each passing day, (but more glaringly obvious at this particular celebration), the end is surely nearer.
I look back at adventures and accomplishments. I look back at flounders and failures. I look back at the rollercoaster rides of my relationships. I look back at the intoxicating yet uncomfortable blossoming into adulthood and the beautiful births of my boys.
But at the same time I also look forward with increased awareness and attention for I could very well be halfway through the time I get to spend in this marvelous body on this miraculous planet.
This could very well be the mid-point in my metaphorical summer vacation:
I’ve finally got the lay of the land. I know which local has all the info. I’ve got my favorite coffee shop. I know the ideal spot for my blanket at the beach. I know which vendors to visit and which to avoid. But I also know my days here are dwindling. What else is it I want to do and see before I go home? What other memories to I want to create on this trip?
Just like the solstice each year, bringing with it fireflies and then cicadas to remind us that time doesn’t stand still, that we’re on the flip side of the year and it’s time to get serious about honing in on New Year’s resolutions, this is the time in my life to hone in on and get clear about my life intentions.
How do I want to spend my time living?
This is serious stuff. And it’s so exciting.