The Best Season of Your Life

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  • Linda Samuels

    I first came upon this poem during a Tara Brach meditation. At the end of the practice, she read this Wu-Men poem, and I loved it. Why? Because it speaks to noticing and appreciating where you are. It also speaks to the nature of change. As the seasons change, they offer something beautiful to experience. Like the seasons of our lives, beauty exists even when there is stress or struggle. And when I give myself the time and space to notice these gifts, I’m filled with gratitude.

    I’ve faced many challenges, yet I never wish them to disappear. I know they help me grow, understand in ways I hadn’t previously, and help me to appreciate even more where I am, what I am doing, and the people I love.

    • Yota Schneider

      Thank you again for sharing this poem with us, Linda
      I can see why it spoke to you. We live our lives on that thin space between opposites … joy and sadness, falling and getting back up, loss and gain … and so on.
      And, on the other side of that unnecessary thought, we can let go of and recognize what is right in front of us and appreciate it.

  • Kathleen Lauterbach

    What came to mind when I read this was that people always ask, “What is your favorite season?”
    The question seems to assume one is better than another. This poem made me think of why I have loved every season. A much better way to think of these yearly cycles.

    Autumn was always my new beginning season. I love the temperature ranges in the fall and the general easing of humidity. The most wonderful thing about being a teacher is that you get to try again every Fall.
    You have that sense of a new start and the kids who come to you are so hopeful that this will be the year they are recognized for who they really are. It is always fun to prepare for a new beginning- get that new notebook and school shoes, feel that slightly nervous anticipation, and imagine results bigger than almost ever could be achieved. An interviewer once made the comment to me that I was too idealistic. My reply without even hesitating was “Would you really ever want a teacher who wasn’t idealistic?”
    Autumn is colorful, unpredictable and refreshing to me.

    Winter is synonymous with fun and surprise to me. I love the thrill of waking up and finding out the world turned white overnight. It was a thrill as a kid to go out and climb snow drifts that seemed as high as Mt. Everest to me. As an adult those snowfalls sometimes were the unexpected day off from work. A gift that was always treasured whether it was spent just lounging in PJ’s or cleaning out a closet.
    Christmas and my birthday both come in winter and the excitement of these two occasions as a child were almost too much to handle. My poor mother always tried to make sure they were both equally as magical for me. Winter also always gives me permission to spend a day wrapped in a comforter in front of the fireplace or spend a day baking with friends.
    Winter is both warm and cold at the same time. It’s a cocoon I love to crawl into.

    Spring is my throw open the windows season. I love the first day when you can just let the wind blow through your house and leave that natural fresh smell. Spring is always the time for me to look at things and see what needs a touch-up! Throw out what didn’t work and try something new.
    As a kid I always remember our ritual of going to get our Easter outfits. My sisters and I always got a Spring coat and a bonnet, my brothers got new dress shirts and bow ties. Then there was always the big debate about whether it would actually be warm enough to wear them to church on Easter Sunday !
    There are oodles of pictures of us in our finery in front of the maple tree in our yard. Most make me laugh at how silly we looked in our “try something new” outfits!
    Spring is emerging light, soft breezes and the slow unfolding of new possibilities.

    Summer is all about letting go of routines and expectations. It’s my time to float! I love sitting on the back porch and watching the birds visit our trees, it’s marveling at the ocean waves as the shoreline seems to move beneath me. Summer is corn-on- the- cob and barbecues, fresh peaches and watermelon. It’s being too hot to even think, never mind do anything. I love that in the summer the distinction between day and night blur. As a kid we could stay outside and catch fireflies or play flashlight tag. Time seemed endless.
    Summer is worry-free, relaxing and lazy.

    The question posed was Why is this your best season? I don’t know if it is? What is good however is that I know a little better what to appreciate. The comfort of spending as much time as I want doing whatever feels right, the ability to say no when it doesn’t feel right, the security of having everything I need and family and friends to share it with.

    • Yota Schneider

      Kathy, your response cracked me open and made me cry a little.

      You brought back myriad memories of growing up in Greece at a time long gone. It was a time of strife but also a time of magic found in the change of seasons and the rituals of living and experiencing each one.

      When I first read this poem, what came up for me was how the clouded mind fools us into not recognizing the season we are in as the only season we have. So why not dive in wholeheartedly and let it be the best season of our life?

      By the way, I love your idealistic nature … goodness why would anyone want to hire a teacher who is not idealistic? And, why would anyone who is not idealistic want to teach? The children you worked with were lucky to have you.

  • Julia Cardoso-Castello

    This is such an inspirational, essencial and complete poem Linda!
    Thanks for sharing this!

    As I reflect on it… thinking of the seasons and their special ways of revealing themselves through very specific ways in Mother Nature, it simply recalled to a better appreciation of the Moment!
    The here and now…
    Growing up I learned of the 4 seasons although we really experienced 2: summer and winter (mostly raining season). So it’s fascinating to contemplate such defined changes… I remember thinking the trees were dead the first time I was in Italy and it was Fall there… I didn’t find it nice… nature in Toscany was bare… just a few evergreen pine trees. Where are the colors? The flowers? The trees and fruits??? Only to realize the world is so much bigger the my own way of perceiving it!
    I found out after awhile I enjoy it! And winter, the silent snow falling and calming air…
    As the years passed and having going through the whole 4 seasons : the first snowstorm etc… the beauty of the Northern hemisphere keeps on the fascination of experiencing all the different aspects and very specific timing of every single one of them.

    It’s soooo true we can loose track of their gifts to us… “clouded by unnecessary things”. What a wonderful invitation to stay in the here and now enjoy the show nature in its most generous ways stores for us: laughter and tears, action and stillness… creation on its most sublime glory! It makes me wonder and contemplate the seasons manifesting themselves internally… inside myself… (which I never thought about)! Thank you!

    P.s.: I came to learn how important for the trees and how alive they are in Autumn.

    • Yota Schneider

      Like you, I grew up living through the four seasons but experiencing only three… spring, summer, and a mild winter. I will never forget the first heavy snowstorm in New England. Such a wonder it was. Discovering the gifts of the four seasons took time. I had to learn to dress, eat, and live according to the seasons.
      Slowly the seasons revealed themselves to me and took me in. Now, when I think of living in a place where I wouldn’t be able to lose myself in the seasonal dance and meditations, I feel the loss of something special and, dare I say sacred. And, so here I still am.

  • Kathleen Ellis

    I loved reading everyone’s accounts of growing up as a seasonal affair. The beautiful koan evokes so many thoughts and memories! I was stuck by the exuberance and abundance and glorious colors of ten thousand flowers. Ending with the austerity and monochrome color of winter. And then I started thinking about the abundance of winter–as all of your posts described–the miraculous individuality of snowflakes, the crackling fires, the blissful silence of a snowstorm. What a gift to use the season and the experience in front of us to light the fire of abundance within. As winter sets in, I’m particularly grateful for this koan and all your contemplations!

    • Yota Schneider

      Kathleen, I love how you described the abundance of winter. Children can recognize and revel in the gifts of winter. As we grow older, we lose sight of how to live according to the seasons. Our culture will not permit it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were encouraged to celebrate “the miraculous individuality of snowflakes, the crackling fires, the blissful silence of a snowstorm” and thus, learn to celebrate our true nature that is very much aligned with the seasons?

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