I’m kind of a vampire. People who know me are always a bit surprised to learn that I actually hate Summer—I’ve been described as bubbly, quirky, goofy, etc. and I suppose my personality doesn’t exactly jive with hating Summer. To an extent, I even kind of hate Spring as well. I know it sounds awful, I know. And I LOVE flowers, possibly more than life itself, so it has nothing to do with hating what Spring and Summer mean or stand for, or what these seasons bring into the world from one year to the next. I just prefer dark and cold surroundings to bright, warm and sunny situations. I simply come alive in the darkness.
Many people become overwhelmed with a sense of dread and can actually sink into a bonafide depression when Winter and Fall roll around. To get through the gloom of these shadow seasons, they may actually require medication and often invest in light therapy products and treatments, just to make it through. Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) is a very real thing, I know. But I seem to get S.A.D. when it’s sunny and hot, when the days start getting longer, and when the birds begin to chirp with more fervor and emphasis. These are all signs that winter is fading, and at this point, I actually go into a bit of a panic. People packing up their cars to go and spend a day outside having lots of fun out in the sun, literally makes me want to crawl into bed and not emerge again until the moonlight kisses my window sill.
Photo credit unknown
I have always been this way, so I have let go of trying to change this part of myself. I used to think something was so wrong with me. I wondered, “Why does everyone look so happy spending time outside in this bright and oppressive sunlight?” I find that Summer-lovers also often express their love of the light on a seemingly constant and ceaseless basis throughout the entire year—their exclamations heightening to full crescendo during the Summer months—further adding to my already uncomfortable feelings of strangeness and isolation about our shared weather circumstances. Whenever sun-worshippers announce how the Summer is so beautiful and how it’s their favorite season, I can never relate, and always feel a slight but noticeable guttural resistance within. I dislike Summer so much, although over the years, I have learned to get through the warm term and just kind of go with it, but it is always very difficult.
However, I have found that my panic subsides a bit once the change of season has taken effect, and that the bulk of my trauma actually resides within the transitional part of this seasonal turning over process.
The Seasons Series by Alphonse Mucha, four color lithograph panels, 1896
Fall is coming, my favorite season of all. And I feel myself getting very excited. During the summer season, I rebel and just kind of let go of my looks a bit. I think to myself, “I hate this season and can never find anything to wear, so I’m just not going to put in much effort.” But when Fall approaches, I whip out the knit-wear and start assembling inspiring wintry ensembles. As a vampire, I also love wearing black. Any excuse to wear black, I take. Perhaps this urge emerges from my background as a photographer—photographer’s never wear anything but black, ever. It’s not a somber color to me. It’s perhaps mysterious, and definitely sophisticated, but not sad or depressing. It makes me happy actually! But it’s tricky trying to wear all black in the summer, so as the temperature cools, I start to throw on black, black, and more black. Black boots, black turtlenecks, black sweaters, black toe nails, and even sometimes a hint of black eye make-up—Ally Sheedy Style.
Film still of Ally Sheedy from the Breakfast Club, 1985
However, with all of my excitement over wearing black knitwear and prematurely switching from Starbucks iced chai latte to regular (piping hot) chai latte, I am finding myself struggling with the transition into my most beloved season as well. Of course, since I am excited for Fall, I don’t feel any sense of panic or dread. But I do feel myself recoiling a bit, and this seems to happen every year. I think for everyone this is natural. We are all entering into a state of hibernation and our bodies instinctively want to retreat from excessive activity. Summer is about explosive energy and expansion; whereas Winter is about stillness, dormancy, and planting seeds of potential, still not yet adequately prepared enough to enter into the light. Even though we are amazingly impressive human beings with opposable thumbs and sizable craniums—we are still animals; we are still part of nature, and our bodies still beg for alignment with Mother Earth, no matter how much our brilliantly advanced minds resist this fact. As much as I can’t wait to enter into the dark period of our year, I’m still feeling a bit of discomfort letting go of the previous season. My body aligned itself with the energy of Summer because it kind of had to, and now my body is realigning to prepare for the next phase. Everything needs to slow down, but it’s all happening in a rather un-mild and jolting kind of way—like how a plane lands on a runway with its breaks screeching and screaming, seeming as if it may never slow down and come to an actual complete stop. Yes, my body very much feels like that around this time.
As human beings, we are so blindly convinced, so much of the time, that we are strong and capable and built to ferociously progress forward, steadfastly no matter our circumstances. This is so not the case. This is such an unhealthy belief that we all often burden ourselves with. Our bodies know the truth. Yet our minds often take us off in an incorrect direction. Not because we are unintelligent or ignorant. But because our mind is often motivated by so many different energies, that it takes quite a bit of mental discipline to decipher between them all. Sometimes, we can actually feel a bit crazy trying to control all of our co-existing thoughts. I know when I start to feel this way, I always just default to my body. One of the most powerful and trusted sources in existence, in my opinion, is the Earth itself. And the Earth is deeply connected to my body—to everyone’s bodies, I’m not special in this respect. And if my body is connected to the Earth and is naturally aligned with its rhythms and cycles, I think it’s a safe bet to fall back on Earth’s wisdom when I’m feeling a bit lost and out of sorts. Earth has been doing Earth for billions of years. Libby has only been doing Libby for 37 (38 on September 19th) years, and Libby is still trying to get her bearings much of the time.
So, during this period of impending freeze, even though I am experiencing much resistance, I need to slow my body down, and trust that my mind will follow suit and eventually settle into peace. I have been feeling overwhelmed during my days, and completely fried during my nights. That is not like me. I have had to start saying “no” to activities because I feel my body pleading for solace. Just when I’m getting the hang of this “active summer” thing, it all begins to end. And I know enough to know that resisting this crossover is not in my best interest. So, as August turns into September, I am doing less, even though my mind is abuzz with lots of stuff. Many times, when my mind feels a bit out of control, it’s best for me to put my body behind the wheel. Everything will eventually realign if I let my body lead.
Body/Earth = Ancient Wisdom
Mind = Capable of great wisdom, but without discipline, often leads us astray
To my fellow dark-loving goddesses, I hope you enjoy this beautiful fall season as much as I plan to. And for all of you light-worshipping deities, it’s time for you to let go as well. The darkness won’t last forever and the light will return as it always does. Take these coming months to go within—even if your mind and body at first resist—and know that this will only serve to enhance the quality of the next sweat-drenched…Er…sun-dappled Summer season of expansion.
Photographs by © Libby Saylor