I have often wondered at the meaning of life and why we are on the face of this earth; I muse as to what purpose I was born and to what end. I don’t have the answers to the reasons for my existence and I doubt if I or any other person ever will. As the years speed past, I have recently began to see life more like a stage and my part therein as that of an active but sometimes unwilling participant. Most times I am cast as the main actress, many times I get a supporting role and in some scenes all I do is waka pass.
In the earlier scenes, my part is preplanned and all that is required of me is to strictly adhere to the role I was cast in and speak the lines given to me. In the middle and later scenes, I find myself thrust unto the stage without any inkling as to the part I am to play. After a moment of confusion, I intuitively act the part that comes to me based on my perception of the scene, or what I had seen other actresses, whom I had understudied, do, speaking the lines that come unbidden to my lips, lines which many times belong to another.
The earlier scenes as you may have guessed are those of my childhood. At a certain age and time it is decided that I am to learn how to read and write. So, one day I am taken to a strange place called school and before I know it my parents have gone off leaving me in the midst of strangers who later become my friends. This incident repeats itself from childhood till my early adulthood as I traverse primary, secondary and university education.
The middle scenes range from my teenage years when I come to understand that I am a different person from my parents and start to deviate little by little from the role given to me as I choose my friends, my course, my entertainment, etc. to my leaving school, securing a job, getting married, having children and raising a family.
The final scenes are that of middle-age, retirement, old-age and death, which follow in a somewhat quick succession.
Life has a timeline but with varied seasons. We have the seasons of joy, laughter, happiness, waiting/wanting, anguish, sorrow, rebirth, renaissance, dryness, busyness/pressure, emptiness, trials, growth, etc. Sometimes the seasons appear alone, sometimes they are a mixed trail, sometimes they have a short time span and sometimes the timespan is loooong, but they have one constant in that they always change. Like the physical seasons, spring will give way to summer, summer to fall and fall to winter.
This message was brought home to me so poignantly sometime last week. I was at a supermarket and I noticed that they had a particular brand of cereal. Some years ago I would have taken at least three packs off the shelf because it was often unavailable in the country but on that day I smiled at the memories that the cereal evoked as I turned away from it. It belonged to a season of my life when my children were much younger and cereals were the staple breakfast item in our home. A season where I complained about how food I bought didn’t last as long as I had wanted and how I sought desperately to balance my life on so many fronts as a wife, mother, daughter and career woman.
I found myself wistfully thinking back on those days when I felt like I was thrust into marriage and parenthood without any manual as to what to do and how I had to follow my guts and advice from others to survive. I realised that although such seasons will never come back I am glad I went through them and though I don’t necessarily want them anymore, I must admit that I do miss some of them – Seasons like the warm pull of my daughter’s lips on my breast as she suckled or the warm hug my son gave me for no reason. Then there is the excitement they showed when I get home from work or when I made their favourite meal or the busyness of the house when they were home for holidays. I look back in appreciation for some seasons especially the ones of sorrow, waiting and renaissance and I am thankful for the strength and courage they wrought in me and the richness and fullness of life I now enjoy because of them.
There is a time for everything under the earth and I am learning that for every season I am in, the secrets to making the best of each season is:
1. Understanding and accepting the season. There are no points to be earned for resisting the season we are in, in fact, resistance will breed resentment and bitterness, which will linger long after the season is gone and colour every other season after it. The secret to enjoying life is to embrace our seasons and look for the lessons they are teaching. Spring comes with hope, summer is a time of rest and enjoyment, fall brings an harvest and although winter brings death, it also bears the seeds of springtime.
2. Find a place of peace and rest in each season. I am a big advocate of finding your happy place no matter what comes your way so in the many seasons of life, be it summer, winter, fall or spring, take time out to enjoy its pleasures for yourself, by yourself. In the time of spring and fall when you are busy planting and harvesting seeds find time for yourself. Don’t be too busy to spend some money on yourself, enjoy life’s simple pleasures and rest your body. In winter, when all seems dark and burdens abound, be mindful of your own needs, keep your sanity and find ways to lighten your burdens.
3. Participate fully in the season rather than wishing it away. I find this to be one of my greatest strengths. In whatever season I am in I have participated fully in that season instead of wishing another season was upon me. So, as a teenager, I enjoyed myself well and rarely do I want to be a teenager again. As a mother of small children, I immersed myself fully in being a mother and as I tell my children I have been a mother and am ready for my role as a grandmother.
4. Understand that seasons must change and do not attempt to cling to the one before. It is very tempting to want things to go on the way they were, especially if they were happy seasons, but sometimes what was good becomes bad and what was termed bad may become acceptable and even enjoyable. So, learn to mourn the death of one season and move on. If a relationship is dead, move on, Accept that you are growing older, love your grays and wrinkles and wear them with pride.
I always find myself resisting change even though I know that there is good to be discovered in every season and it’s mostly because I am apprehensive of what the change will bring and doubtful of my capacity to cope with it. Interestingly, I have found that I have been able to cope and even thrive in the seasons once I take my eyes off myself and lean unto God for His grace, strength and wisdom. Nowadays I look forward to what my change will bring, loving me and the person I am evolving into in every season. I ask that you join me with the same attitude in the interesting play called Life.