The days are now lengthening which sounds very positive, but with this lengthening thingy comes the cold. The winter sets in, into our lives, our very bones. We have months yet before we can go back to lightweight cardies and no socks and I can feel my gears changing. Up to Christmas nothing matters much beyond Christmas, but, after that it seems we are faced with self-control and diets and bare trees and winds with teeth, floodings and the very real chance of arriving at playgroup, work, the supermarket or school soaked to the skin.
I remember standing at a bus stop out in the open (bus shelters were yet to be invented) with my toes turning to wood, and painfully. My mother fixed me into clod-hopping, steel hard lace-ups with round toes and room for growth, as there was in my regulation coat, closely resembling a small and chilly gnome, standing there, waiting for the school bus. I remember my toes remained frozen for most of the day so that if I ran along with the others whose mothers chose softer and warmer footwear I invariably made a great impression on the gritty scree of the courtyard, and little on my classmates.
I recognise a gear shift when it comes. It’s the same when the weather warms up in late Spring, which for us is May at the earliest, more likely well into June. I am way too hot and yet unwilling, it seems to bring out the thinner tops. I resist the change initially until the very real threat of internally combusting forces me to adapt, and I must needs peel back multi-layers and expose my ashen and unwilling skin to the shock of sunlight It thinks me about change. I say that I welcome it, but I now think that I welcome change that suits me, and am as resistant as the next woman when it does not. Change seems to sneak up and bite my bum and I will do anything to fend off what niggles and bothers me for as long as possible.
What I seem to want is no change at all once I’m in step with life. I like routine, even though I say I don’t. What I know is what I want, not that other uncomfortable thing about which I know nothing, or can remember little, and which looms like a spectre with dark shadows and siren threats and a change of clothing. And yet, Life herself changes daily, so why the resistance when I know it to be true?
I don’t need routine to keep me upright and smiling, I need change. I don’t need routine to give me a sense of self or of place, for I am complete all by myself. Nor do I need to control any change when it requires something of me, although it might be nice to get a warning email a month or so before it arrives. What I need is an open mind, an ability to move quickquick if I need to or slowslow if that is a better option. I need to loosen up my grip on what I know, ready to let go, ready to grab on to the next set of circumstances, for it is the truth that most change comes unbidden and unsought.
My own little world is very small. And yet the world itself is huge, littered with people and homes and lives. Looking out of my window, stepping out of my world and learning more about others, talking, sharing, helping…..these are the ways I learn to accept change in my own life. This is the way I stop thinking about myself, and, as I step out more, my own world expands. Conversations lift me, I learn new truths, and I find things I can alter or accept inside my own little world. None of that happens if I stay home, boiling or freezing in my stubborn resistance to change.
This is the season for visits and laughs about runny noses and frozen toes. This is the time to work together, to pick each other up, to slog through the mud and cold of it all, for we need each other in order to understand who we are. This is how we define ourselves with stories and songs and cheer-ups and cough drops, and, in defining ourselves we can work more flexibly with change when it comes, sans warning email.
In short, we remember how to laugh and mostly, at ourselves.