Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice

A freezing rain is falling on dark, icy streets outside. It’s fitting weather for Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. We in the northern hemisphere are now at the furthest point away from the sun. After tonight, the days will start to get longer – although the temperatures will continue to get colder for several more weeks.
There are candles burning around the house tonight, marking this long cold night and signalling hope for the lengthening days.

Solstice and the approaching year-end have me thinking a lot about endings and beginnings, and about change. As Heraclitus said, ‘the only constant is change’, yet as we get older, sometimes the change is harder to see, harder to realize.

When I was in my 20s, change was my constant. I was much better at starting fresh than I was at planting roots. I don’t regret that – and often miss the freedom, spontaneity and discovery of travel and new beginnings – although I do value what I have gained by learning home and community.

Indeed, the two biggest changes in my life – marriage and parenthood – have made a different sort of constant out of change. These changes are permanent and all that I do, all the changes I make, for the rest of my life must include and accommodate them. Change has now become more complex, an interconnected movement and dance, no longer a solo show. How do the changes I make as an individual affect my partner, my child? What does it mean to dream and create the possibilities of change and discovery when my life is not solely my own?

Sometimes I look at my daughter and imagine the endless possibilities before her. It’s exciting to know that there is so much she will do, be and discover. While we get glimpses of her personality, she is still growing and changing at such a rapid pace it’s almost dizzying. But for myself, I’m no longer so certain what it means to plan and hope for change.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time” - T.S. Eliot

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