In San Diego this year, summer seemed to linger through most of October. Finally, a week or so ago, I awoke to a cool breeze and a chill in the air. As I burrowed under the welcome warmth of my blankets, I realized that the seasons might take their time coming, but even in the temperate climate of Southern California, the cycle is inevitable.
It’s that way with life too. Every phase of our life is a season that will cycle into the next one – as inevitably as the phases of the moon, the tides, and the turning of the leaves.
The seasons of our lives may not be as predictable as the earth’s seasons. Sometimes they last a long time – maybe longer than you want them to – and sometimes they are over too quickly. Some people’s lives might be like the San Diego seasons, without drastic ups and downs or upheavals, while others might experience dramatic hurricanes, tornados, and heat waves.
I just stumbled across this parable, and I think it does a good job of explaining the changing of the seasons as they relate to events in our lives. A king had four sons. To teach them an important lesson he decided to ask them to visit a cherry tree in the deep forest of their kingdom.
During the coldest days of winter, he asked his eldest son to go and see the tree and come back with his impressions. The prince returned and told his father that the tree was barren, old, and hopeless. “That tree is no good to anyone,” the young man said, “it looks useless and maybe it is better to cut it down and use the wood before it rots.”
A few months later, in the springtime, the king asked his second son to visit the tree. The prince came back and told his father and brothers “The tree is not barren! It’s full of beautiful cherry blossoms and looks young and promising. It is surrounded by butterflies and bees who are enjoying its flowers.”
Then, in the summer the king sent his third son to go to see the tree and come back with a description. When the prince returned, he said, both brothers were wrong about their assessment. “There are no blossoms, rather the tree is loaded with delicious cherries and looks mature and valuable. Many birds are living in the tree and enjoying the fruit.”
Finally, in autumn the king asked his youngest son to visit the tree. The prince returned and said that the tree did not have fruit or flowers as his brothers described. “But it looks beautiful with its colored leaves with lovely shades of gold, red, and orange,” he shared.
Then the wise king asked his sons “What did you learn from this experience?”
The other three princes were still thinking about how each assessment was so different, when the youngest son shared his understanding:
- Like the tree, we experience different seasons of life, and are greatly affected by them.
- We should not judge our life based only on our current situation.
- Every season has a purpose.
- No matter what the current season is, it will change again.
It might seem obvious and even unnecessary to share the fact that seasons change and so does life, but I believe the simplest concepts can be the most profound, and it can be beneficial to slow down and think them over.
If you’re having a hard time right now and wonder when your next (better) phase will begin, it might be hard to accept the fact that you’re in this place for a reason, and there may be lessons you need to learn before moving onto the next season of your life. However if you are tuned into your intuition, the inner voice that can see your experience for what it is, you’ll experience not just positive change, but transformation! Instead of just cycling through the seasons of your life, with awareness, you can be like a strong healthy tree – growing bigger and more beautiful with the passing of every year.