Fall is my favorite season.
Beautiful green foliage turning fifty shades from red to orange.
That soft, crispy wind, now that the Indian Summer is a distant memory.
The light sweater, a fall jacket and a cotton scarf, a stroll on the streets of the beautiful City; the air is frisky but still gentle, sounds seem to get louder, resonating and bouncing back off the streets, off the busy crowd, the frantic cars and cabs and the excited school students.
And invariably, each end of September, as I am getting excited about the new season.
End of the Year Holidays!
My excitement quickly turns bitter-sweet. I feel an invisible node forming in my throat and expanding all over my chest.
Now it’s about time to go back to school…
School has never been a happy place for the shy and introverted kid that I was. I liked being on my own, reading or to watching TV or playing video games.
That was then, a long time ago.
The odd part is that this feeling of October angst kept me company throughout my life. Incidentally, October always felt like the month of new starts. Every job or course or training started during that month.
Is that normal, as an adult, to feel so much anxiety only because it’s October? Unreal!
I look around me and I see that I am by far not alone.
Excitement or Anxiety?
Some people feel the excitement of the new season, the new opportunities and joys to come. Others, like me, feel that authoritarian voice inside, “the vacation is over, get back to work.”
This voice is frightening, because it takes away my joy.
Mother Earth preparing for the restful months of winter, the animal kingdom packing on supplies for their upcoming hibernation. The trees detoxing before getting a new wardrobe. My kitty finally snuggling at any opportunity, now that we can love each other without increasing our respective body temperature beyond the 100 degrees.
A Modern Programming
So are we, Humans, so far off from the natural rhythm of life around us? Certainly the way we have built our societies have contributed greatly to liberate us from the hold that nature’s seasons had on us. We live our lives the way we decide to. We don’t need the call of the seasons, of our natural urges or of hormones to live as we please.
The way we structured our year is a modern and recent setup. The concept of summer holidays became the norm when all school kids, urban and rural alike, had to follow the same schedule. The creation of paid holidays allowed more people to flee the cities’ heat during summertime, a privilege then reserved for the wealthy only.
The structure of our week/weekend is also a modern invention. It likely originated from the industrialization and urbanization trends of the 19th century.
When it became possible, we have definitely worked our way to make room for leisure and free time in our lives, regardless of any environmental constraints.
But at what price?
While it’s commendable that humankind harnessed these outside powers and used their brains and creativity to an efficient purpose, it seems that sometimes our inner nature is calling us back to our roots.
First, for those living in countries where income allows paid vacations and weekends off—and allow me to say, that’s by far not accessible to the majority of the human species—work has become the cornerstone of our life, around which all the rest evolves.
We have trouble disconnecting from our work, oh thank goodness we have now 24/7 remote access.
Some of us experience the dreaded Sunday Blues (see my post of Manic Monday). I know people who would get physically sick the first day of work after their vacations.
So is that what life is about? Gambling with our health, with our personal satisfaction, just to take 2 weeks off and forget everything? What is so bad about our jobs that we actually need 2 weeks to rewire our brains and bodies?
Since we have this un-negotiable right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, shouldn’t they come free of pain? More fulfillment, less struggle?
I am conscious this is a high-class issue. Many people work several jobs to make ends meet. Other work long hours in an insane amount of stress, to save for retirement, to pay for their lifestyle, their kids, and the bills.
Integrating vs Compartmentalizing
And then there are the happy ones, those who have found the job that completes them or those who have taken a leap of faith of creating their own lives.
Perhaps it’s time we should start looking at them as our role models. They work hard, but it never feels like work, it’s just another piece of the bigger picture that is their lives. They manage to integrate when others compartmentalize.
It doesn’t mean bringing work to their home but knowing when to stop working and start playing. Because they know that it is the secret to success. When every part of your body, mind, and soul are in harmony together, with the world, nature included.
The September/October Effects on Stock Markets:
History of Summer Vacations and Of Workweek and Weekend: