The season of summer is the time of long warm days, summer vacation from school, holidays from work, and a time for dreaming. Angeles Arrien in her classic book, The Four Fold Way (HarperSanFrancisco, 1993), defines summer by the direction of the East – where the sun rises; by the element of fire – which can warm us, cook our food, and burn or destroy. Summer carries the resource of vision and the way of the visionary . This draws us to our dreams for the future, creativity, authenticity and truth. The way of living of the visionary asks us to be in right placement and to connect with our life’s dream, purpose and meaning. This requires slowing down, being quiet and going inward. All activities consistent with a lazy summer day.
During summer we are called to learn and know who we really are so that we can bring our authentic self and personal gifts, talents and contributions forward. Sometimes during our lives we are “forced” to hide our real selves (e.g. to conform to peer pressure, or join the corporate trance) to survive. This hiding may become a pattern of living and lead to self-abandonement and/or denial.
Famed San Francisco psychologist Rollo May said: “If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.”
This summer, on my first day of a several week vacation in British Columbia, motivated by forces beyond my consciousness, I shaved off my beard of more than 15 years. This shedding of my beard reminded me of the snakes’s need to periodically shed its skin. For the snake it is an act of survival. Without shedding its skin as it grows larger, it will die. This shedding of something no longer needed is also a symbol of change, creativity and healing. It is not only the snake that sheds its skin as part of growing. Dogs shed, birds moult, and humans turn over their cells regularly – from their skin to their intestines to their blood.
At times in our lives we have to drop something, let go, move on, change in order to continue to grow, progress, heal, and even survive on our chosen path. The restlessness and rebellion of the young and the dissatisfaction, stifled idealism or pessimism of the old may be signs that outgrown aspects of ourselves need to be shed.
Summer, which is now waning, is a time of light, seeing, dreaming, even “enlightenment”. It is a time to review, reassess and redream. As summer gives way to “Indian summer” and Fall, before the air turns too cold and the days too short, experience the gifts of summer. Spend some time in Nature and solitude where you can tell yourself the truth, review the vision of your preferred future, reassess your goals, and revisit your life’s dream and heart’s desire.
Are you listening to your own being? Are you expressing your original gifts, talents and ideas? Are you acting on your life’s dream? Did you receive the gifts of summer?