There are two tests in life, more important than any other test. On Monday morning, when you wake up, do you feel in the pit of your stomach you can’t wait to go to work? And when you’re ready to go home Friday afternoon, do you say, ‘I can’t wait to go home’? If you can say yes to both those tests, God has been good to you, don’t complain.
Have you ever stopped caring about something that used to mean the world to you? It happened to me in the spring, maybe in the early summer, and it was the weirdest thing: I stopped wanting to reflect. I know! My daily bread and butter, the very way that I approach the world, rejected! Whatever kind of seeker’s quest I had been on for the past, oh, seven years or so, I gave up, for no other reason than I was sick of myself. What had once seemed like a rich topic of investigation suddenly seemed like the most boring material on earth. Who cares why I do things the way I do or how I can do them better, what I want or what the future holds? Certainly not me!
I like to think that it began at first because I was so happy. I was so happy, in fact, and for such a long stretch, that I stopped fearing it would slip through my fingers. I stopped reflecting why it was so. So I gave up yoga (too much tuning in!), tarot (whatever!), Buddhist podcasts and all my stacks of books about a considered, conscious life (boooooring!). Turns out, I thought at the time, when you stop thinking about how to get more contentment and joy, it just appears! Maybe the secret to feeling good was to stop thinking about yourself so goddamn much?
The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life
Elegantly-made or sorely-felt, this time of year is all about transitions. It is a time of year that makes me think of quiet transport, like sitting in a passenger seat on the way home from one of the last swims of the season. I’ve got that to-the-core chill and we drive home the scenic way with the windows down, my hair wet down my back. It’s like waking up from the sweetest sleep. The heat of the day has finally burned off, and I’m ready to eat something warm. Probably fried chicken.
There are five seasons in Chinese medicine. The fifth season, the one we enter now, is late summer. Here’s what my kinda weird book says on the topic:
Late summer itself is a short season, but it can be a time of intense metamorphosis in nature and within ourselves…During transitional periods, it is especially important to stay centered, a state of being in contact with the Earth that we call “grounded”…Centering has to do with finding balance in which we are aware of our polarities, the yin and yang qualities of Earth and Heaven, left and right, inner and outer.
This is a transition I always feel keenly: the slow softening of the light, an edge of coolness in the evenings or on a breeze, and the way I can always feel myself savoring something I can never quite put my finger on but am certain is the end of one kind of thing and the beginning of another.
These are the songs for that.