Everything changes, all of the time.
I am not fooled by the beautiful hot afternoon with the doors fully open onto the garden. The morning and its telltale dew, heavy enough for Daisy to leave prints across the kitchen as if she’d been standing in water, are reminder enough that summer is leaving and autumn is preparing to fall upon us.
This is a time of year which brings with it so much mixed emotion. The end of things preceding the beginning of others. The hope and anticipation, at the beginning of the long summer holidays, now whittled away to just a few hours.
With my birthday at the end of August, it always seemed that I had my own personal marker for the end of summer. The point at which to put away the frivolous and carefree in order to prepare for an altogether more serious time.
The evidence suggests this is more than mere fancy. Many of the most defining experiences of my life have come in the autumn after, on reflection, I had managed to hang on for dear life through the emotionally sweltering and sultry months of summer.
If I were to categorise these experiences I could easily place them in two piles. “breakups” and “breakdowns”. Sometimes one led to another but often they were unrelated.
Autumn is perhaps the most impactful seasonal reminder of change. Everything is the same until, suddenly, everything is different. I think I learned about change through autumn, coming to see it as something inevitable rather than impossible.
Is it possible that one of the most devastating and fundamental misjudgments we make about our lives is that change is difficult?
Of course, in a sense, it is. Once we have walked the same road thousands of times it becomes a compelling route for us to take, but it is still a choice.
When a client, stuck in a destructive, demeaning relationship or burdened by self-loathing asks, “so how can I change?” it is both the easiest and most difficult question I am ever asked.
There isn’t a set of instructions, there’s only a path. But you can only find it with belief and hope.
Across the short expanse of water where the dogs like to play, the level has risen so that Daisy can’t get across by walking. Seeing Flynn bound across by virtue of his long lurcher legs she follows, soon out of her depth. This is the point at which she learns she can swim. So she does.
Daisy’s blind faith that she could do it meant that she could. This might be a rule that doesn’t always work but when it comes to emotional change, it nearly always does.
They say that you don’t have to teach a dog how to swim, just when to swim.
Maybe humans don’t need to be taught how to change, just when to.
Then the question must alter and everything looks different. Instead of “How do I change?” we must ask, “When shall I change?”
No longer confused and stuck, but liberated and full of hope.
So as the summer begins to fade maybe we can take the seasons passing as a way to remember that change is constant, and to maintain destructive and negative beliefs about ourselves is taking a lot of effort. Simpler surely to let go, maintain hope, and move towards a more beautiful autumn.