CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If you've been feeling a little "off" lately, you're not alone. I've talked with a lot of folks who are experiencing a sense of "the blahs" for no apparent reason. Maybe it's the dog days of August -- or maybe it's the coming change in the season.
Whether your source is the Bible or the '60s rock band The Byrds, you've probably heard that "to everything, there is a season -- and a time for every purpose under heaven."
If that's true, we're right at the cusp of one of those seasons. You may not put this into perspective because "back to school" notices have been bandied about since mid-July. And Mother Nature seems to have gotten confused with the memos for the spring, summer and monsoon seasons.
Nevertheless, we're entering that annual ritualistic time of football games, crisp evenings, fall foliage and new teachers. And we'll be saying goodbye soon to summer vacations, swimming pools, lightning bugs and (yea!) humidity.
My favorite season has always been spring. I've heard it referred to as "the rejuvenation of nature and also of ourselves." But without the winter, we wouldn't have the anticipation of spring. Besides, fireplaces, sweaters and the aroma of big pots of chili wafting through the breeze certainly have their places.
While I used to think I'd like to live year-round in a spring/summer type climate, I've grown fonder of the change of seasons over the years. And it's interesting to stop and reflect on the changes in ourselves that parallel the changes in nature.
I'm not exactly the hardy outdoor type. Far from it. I've come to have a deeper respect, though, for the contrast that comes with the different seasons. And it's interesting to note how many of our standards have been set up as a reaction to nature's conditions.
Have you ever wondered why children go to school from about 7:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.? Why doesn't the school day parallel the workday for the convenience of working moms and dads? I'm told it was designed that way in the beginning because of the family farms. Kids could come home from school and still get in some work in the fields before suppertime. And, while we're a long way from the domination of the family farm, these time rituals -- for the most part -- have stayed the same.
So, is there really a season for everything? In our multitasking world of today, the reaction may be different than days of yore. With artificial conditions, one can certainly transpose things. Like ice skating and swimming year-round. But there's still a consistency -- and a comfort -- that goes with the seasons. And it keeps things exciting. While I definitely enjoy warm weather, I may get tired of it 365 days a year. Maybe 300, though.
All this got me thinking about contrasts in our lives. Without coldness, we wouldn't appreciate heat. And, if we'd never been sad, we wouldn't know the extreme shift to happiness. Just think of all the references to contrasts -- ebb and flow, the long and short of it, and as broad as it is long.
Remember the movie "Pleasantville"? With everything so hunky-dory (where did that expression come from?), boredom set in quickly. I'm not saying we shouldn't do everything in our power to keep things on a positive note. We need to make sure, though, that we're being real and not being in denial about a situation.
After all, our biggest lessons often come from our hardest falls. If not for these major contrasts or "wakeup calls," we may never muster the courage or the energy to change a situation. Sometimes we need a gentle nudge. And other times we need a full-fledged kick in the pants.