The Tender Turning Point of September

I’ve seen a lot of people crying this week.

A friend consoling another friend who is leaning against a wall in tears; a woman and a man looking at each other, hand-in-hand, and crying; a shaky voice on the phone.

My heart twinges every time I see this – I remember my own times when I could not stop crying, whether I was on my bike or on a streetcar or at my desk in an office.

September is a tender time. There’s a sense of newness and energy and beginnings. And at the same time, there’s a sense of loss, of impending cold, a point in the earth’s revolution around the sun where there is no turning back. Winter is on its way.

For all those who are feeling their way through tears in the midst of this transition, I offer one of my favourite quotes, from Pema Chodron’s Comfortable with Uncertainty, p.195:

Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, and energizes us. We feel connected. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others. We make ourselves a big deal and want life to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction.

On the other hand, wretchedness – life’s painful aspect – softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is an important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose – you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all be so depressed and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.

Laura McGrath, CPCC, is a Toronto-based co-active life coach who helps smart people to live from their hearts. Let's talk! You can subscribe to Ready for Change news to receive thoughtful notes on personal growth, and you can contact Laura to find out if coaching is right for you.