Life Transitions: 4 Truths about Seasons of the Heart
Life transitions are at their most readily apparent in the late Summer-early Fall period: we feel the turning of the seasons — in nature and ourselves.
I’ve certainly felt this personally this year as the days move towards early September. My youngest child is heading off to university this fall, and so this seasonal turning matches the turning of the seasons in my own life. Who knew there were so many seasons, so many life transitions in adulthood!
Seasons of Adulthood
Well, it turns out psychologist Daniel J. Levinson did, or at least knew more about it than most of us. His groundbreaking work on the seasons of men’s and women’s lives postulated four stages, overlapping to some degree, that run right through the life cycle: 1. Childhood and Adolescence (birth to 20); 2. Early Adulthood (17-45); 3. Middle Adulthood (40-65); and, 4. Late Adulthood (60 and up).
According to Levinson, each stage has a stable period, and transitional stages between it and the other stages. Whether or not he gets these precisely right, it ‘s hard to avoid his basic intuition that life consists of stages and seasons — an intuition shared by Jung.
Discerning the Time
It’s essential to discern the season of our lives. What is it that life is bringing to us at this time, right here, right now? Can we see it? Can we let it be what it is? Or are we straining to return to some long past reality, trying to fit the present into the mold of a now non-existent past? Or, striving in some grim, relentless way to bring an as-yet non-existent future into existence, and, in the process, missing what life is bringing to us now?
Or, am I stuck in a major life transition, knowing that I can’t remain in the past, but unsure about how to move into the future?
Life Transitions: Embrace, Let Go
September is a time that really brings home the realities of the seasons of our lives.
Sometimes it’s hard to embrace the present moment and its meaning. We’ll see this reality powerfully mirrored in the faces of some of our children as they face the reality of going back to school! Still, we have to accept what our lives are, and what we face at the moment, in both our inner and outer worlds.
We also have to be strive to be aware of the feeling response of our inmost being to the season — whether it is anxiety, acceptance, grief, yearning, or any other reaction.
Life Transitions of the Fall
Here comes September, a reminder of the changing seasons and of the life transitions of men and women. Here comes September, mirror of all the seasons of life, and of their call to us, as the Byrds remind us in the beautiful song “Turn, Turn, Turn”, with the words of the Bible sounding remarkably like the words of Lao Tzu:
Life transitions, especially major life transitions, touch our depths. Often /a-midlife-transition can help us find meaning, healing and direction in the midst of the seasons of our lives.