Breathe In, And Hold It

We are in the fullness of late summer here. Last weekend, my partner Chris and I drove to a national forest near us to go mushroom hunting and dip our toes into our favorite waterfall. While we walked through the forest, I noticed an absence of the usual sounds—no leaves rustling, no birds chirping, no squirrels running along a high branch. It was so quiet, like the whole forest was holding its breath.

This is the feeling of late Summer.

When I go walking in the Spring and the Fall, the forest feels totally alive: things are waking up or going to sleep, plants are reaching up toward the sun or leaves are raining down on the ground. If the year is a wheel—a cycle of seasons—then we are directly on the other side from deep Winter. And there is a similar feeling, even though here the days still reach 90 degrees. There is a stillness; the world is pausing to take in the final days of one season before a new season begins.

On our drive down to the national forest, I started seeing signs for corn mazes and apple picking, and I asked Chris if we could get pumpkins from a pumpkin patch this year. He laughed and told me I had Premature Fall Syndrome. “It's still Summer!” Within those words was a gentle reminder: “Don't skip ahead of this moment.”*

We live in a culture that seems always to be rushing forward, asking “What's next?” And whether the desire is rooted in fear or excitement, it causes us to skip ahead of the moment we're in right now. When we, following the rhythms of late Summer, take a minute to pause in the fullness, it offers us something valuable. It shows us how far we've come in this season of our lives: how much we've done, experienced, witnessed, created, grown.

It's like taking as deep a breath as you can, and then holding it. In that moment, with your whole self filled up, you can feel your own expansiveness. You can feel your incredible capacity for growth and spaciousness and vitality. Then, even in moments when you feel less full—when you feel doubtful, or afraid, or small—your body will remember all that you are and all that you can hold.

I know this moment in the world feels full in almost every possible way. If you want, take a minute and just let yourself feel it—how much you've learned this year, how much change you've made space for, how much you've endured. Breathe in, hold it, and let it all go.

A new season is coming.


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