Growing up in the Midwest, it seems I’ve developed a complicated relationship with the weather. The early years of our relationship, when everything was fresh and new, I found unconditional beauty and fun in the four seasons. My mood and energy level didn’t seem to be affected by the fickleness of Wisconsin’s seasons. Our relationship seemed healthy, free from attachments. However, over the years, our relationship dynamic began to shift. As I became older, I developed preferences, growing aware of the aspects I liked and the ones I didn’t. I naturally began associating feelings of pleasure with the aspects I appreciated and feelings of displeasure with the ones I didn’t. This is a very human thing to do, especially in relationships. We are wired to judge, to move toward things that bring pleasure and comfort and away from things that cause pain and discomfort. Therefore, my relationship with the weather became unbalanced over time and I found myself growing attached to needing it to be a certain way, rather than simply accepting the way that it was and not deriving my joy based upon it. Human beings can become easily attached to things. In our Western culture, we are bombarded with messages that promote and encourage attachment. Eastern culture teaches that attachments cause suffering and therefore, any attachment, whether it be to our children, our TV shows, or the weather, ultimately; will lead to suffering. I can certainly attest to this truth as I reflect upon my personal development and growth over the years. Whether it be my attachment to old beliefs systems, relationships, or ways of doing things, each one has led to suffering in some way. These attachments inhibited my freedom and slowed my personal growth, due to their influence over my moods, my feelings, my actions.
It seems life provides a continual practice of discernment and letting go. My relationship with the weather was a perfect example. At first, I rationalized my attachment with my humanness, declaring my biological need for Vitamin D. Vitamin deficiencies are a real thing and so is Seasonal Affective Disorder! Or perhaps it was the wiring of my brain’s reward system, with the intermittent schedule of sunny, mild days and then dreary, cold days, causing spikes in my dopamine levels. It’s no wonder I developed an unhealthy dependency. My rationalizations could be endless, however, the reality is, my relationship with the weather is codependent and it’s not helpful. So, now what?
Admittedly, it feels easier to take a look at my co-dependent relationship now that the weather has warmed up a bit and the sun has finally made an appearance. But in the spirit of non-judgment, I accept this truth and turn to a gratitude practice to begin to help me unwind this web of co-dependency. I’m thankful the weather is teaching me appreciation. During the coldest of days, a day where I can step outside, breath in, and feel like the moisture in my nose freezes instantly upon contact with the outside air; I’ve learned to appreciate the consistency of change, vowing not to complain on the warmest of days, where I can step outside and the humidity is so high I feel like I just came out of the shower. I also am grateful for how the weather has modeled the process of letting go. Observing the trees at the change of seasons, I’ve witnessed the beauty of allowing versus resisting change. As the temperatures decrease and the chlorophyll begins to break down in the leaves, they turn from green to shades of yellow, orange and red. The tree doesn’t resist this change in any way, it simply supports and allows it. Eventually, as the temperature continues to drop, the leaves begin to turn brown and die. The tree doesn’t hold on the leaves, refusing to let them fall, it gracefully allows the dead leaves to fall. As one season ends, another begins bringing new leaf buds that gradually grow and unfold. I’ve attuned this beginning and ending; the letting go, to the many self-narratives I’ve conjured up over the years that no longer serve me, the false beliefs, the relationships… As they begin to die, it’s been more helpful for me to allow them to fall away, rather than try to hold on to what no longer brings life to my path. Though it’s not always easy to let go, the seasons have certainly taught me the benefit of doing so.
Our perspective is everything, I tell my clients, and it’s one thing we have control over. Perhaps, it’s time to perceive my co-dependent relationship with the weather in a different way. Instead of needing the weather to be a certain way in order for me to feel differently, maybe I can begin to see it as my greatest teacher. With each extreme and erratic shift that comes about, I can thank it for showing me that I am free to make a different choice. I can choose to manage and direct myself, rather than letting it manage and direct me. I can be compassionate with myself when I’m frustrated allowing it to come and go with ease. I can focus on gratitude more and judgment and negativity less. With these practices, I can break the cycle of co-dependency and be free of suffering… even during Polar Vortexes and snow in April. Now wouldn’t that be amazing!