Changes and constants

White shoes on Veterans Day

White shoes on Veterans Day

It was warm today when we watched the Veterans Day parade; we took our coats off and stood in the sunshine. And tomorrow it will be cold; optimistic kids are calling for a Snow Day.

The seasons change in fits and starts, and probably there will be one more day when we go without leggings before we pull out the gloves, which we will wear until one day in the middle of winter when it feels like spring but isn’t.

For several years in a row, I left work early on New Year’s Day to go hiking or for a run. That was when I always worked on New Years.

I don’t do that anymore if I can avoid it. I’d rather be with my family, or my friends who are like my family.

If we do it right, the way we live our lives evolves.

Every time the seasons change here in the South, a close friend of mine whose family is SOUTHERN (all caps) talks about how she finally no longer cares if it’s after Labor Day – she’s wearing white, damnit, and she might even forgo putting on her makeup for today’s Kroger trip.

At 84, my grandmother is a distillation of who she’s always been, but shaped in discernible ways by changes in her life and lives around her. Twenty years ago, she revacuumed after the maid left. Now she could care less if the maid actually cleans. Always, the maid’s primary distraction has been my talkative grandmother. They keep each other company in my grandmother’s clean-ish house.

We care, we don’t care, then we care about the right things.

I would like to think that as seasons change, we are less bothered by details and rules, and more concerned with other people. Not about what they think of us, but with how they feel themselves. I’d like to believe that as the seasons change, we are less self-centered and more self-aware.

During changes in our lives, we search for constants to keep us grounded, to help us maintain or arrive at who we are, have been, and are becoming.

Gardeners think of planting seasons. Sports fans of athletic events. Nashvillians (some of us, not all) of awards shows.

I know, for example, that right now – two weeks after the CMAs and into the throes of high school football playoffs – my tulip bulbs should have been underground for about two weeks.

It is time to do this. Time to do that.

But a good life is not about convenience; it’s about adaptation, invention and other people.

Change can be fulfilling or exhilarating, but it can also be awkward and exhausting, and sure enough sometimes it’s easiest to sit out for awhile and let others bring you a scarf if it’s 40 degrees and all you’re wearing is a tshirt. That’s another rule of living well: Know when someone else has the better idea.

Soon, it will be winter. Until then, enjoy the remains of fall.


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