Into The Dwindling Light

Updated: Apr 20


It was a weekend retreat spent in the wilderness outside Kingston, a beautiful reprieve from my usually full days. The woman who organized it, my friend and coach Caroline, thought of every detail to make all of us in attendance feel comfortable and welcome and totally taken care of. The food was plentiful and delicious, the energy of the group was warm and each day offered us different ways to come into connection with ourselves and one another. The emphasis was on wellness and healing and I left that weekend feeling perfectly whole. My hour long drive back to the city was in contemplative silence, immersed in the calm I had taken away with me. Bonds formed with new friends, nourished with good food and energy sessions, I felt so peaceful and full.

Fast forward to now, less than two years later, I try to imagine this scenario unfolding in our current climate. Within a span of a few months things like gathering close for meals with new friends, sharing food, holding hands in circle, receiving hands-on healing treatment all seem so foreign. Whether you believe in the mainstream narrative or not, the very real devastating effects of physical disconnection are palpable for all. In this time of extreme disconnect how many of us are also feeling like we’re highly over-functioning? How many of us would love to do nothing more than drop out of the current day-to-day form of survival and get back to thriving in a mutually shared realm of healing?

Interesting isn’t it, that very basic and primal need for connection and restoration. We are hearing the word ‘essential’ tossed around frequently right now and yet we overlook something so integral to our very survival. Why else would solitary confinement be a punishment used for the most heinous of crimes?

I miss teaching in person.


So here we are, month 5 of these weird times and I think about the stark difference of now vs two years ago when I came home refuelled by my retreat experience, bridging the expansiveness of summer into the coziness of fall. The easiness of summer is winding down for many, in this part of the world our window of feeling footloose and fancy free is very short. For two months we toss on as little clothing as we can, forgo footwear much of the time and get ourselves outside as often as possible. We do this because we know that the connection we find in nature is harmonious to our very being — the sun, the warmth, the breeze, the air, the water, the growing flora and fauna — all alive with the brightness of summer. And after our intensely long winters spent inward and indoors we are bursting to join the natural rhythm of our world. An essential part of human experience, a being in a living world. We may not recognize it as the powerful calling that it is, but we heed it all at the same. So as we now notice the dwindling daylight, the evenings cooling quickly, the tips of the tallest maples and oaks just starting to turn, we feel the door shutting on this season.

Here summer season closes as school begins, we feel the change in nature and know what it’s signalling. With so many looming uncertainties and challenges before us it’s heavier than usual for many. Again it doesn’t matter which end of the spectrum you’re on, we’re all facing a totally unknown world. If you’ve been following along with the news and doing your part to flatten the curve and keep others safe and creating a bubble and taking your role very seriously then suddenly contemplating shutting your kids in with dozens of other children and staff in small quarters with no possible way to physically distance for five days a week will likely feel insane and in stark contrast to every bit of info you’ve been following all this time. And for those who aren’t buying into the viral outbreak narrative and have been on high alert as the gatekeeper of knowledge to their kids, keeping them in the sanctity of their small world of people they know and trust who are also not feeling fearful for their physical wellbeing but are very much worried about the longterm psychological effects of no physical connection, isolation, separation, chemical overuse and being in a sea of masked automatons, then you too are faced with impossible decisions of ‘maintaining normalcy’ and keeping your kids socialized and no longer being able to be the filter for what they see or hear when they’re not with you. Maybe either of these scenarios are finding you making the choice to homeschool and you’re approaching that with inexperience and trepidation, what does it mean for the other parts of your life to have your kids home full time? No matter how you cut it, right now is fraught with big challenges that no one knows how to navigate.

We’re leaving the high part of summer, the idleness of days that unfold without schedules, the sandy toes and bruised knees, the sunbleached hair and late nights and moving forward to uncharted territory. Compounding all of this is not being able to feel supported in the ways we often would turn to in the past. The weekend retreats, the breezy lunches in the county with girlfriends, the massages, the energy healing. The possibility that you are over-functioning in every possible way as a human right now is very high.

How do we harness the joyful part of summer and bring that into our fall? How can we approach winter with the same feeling of expansion and easiness? Many people find the dark, cold and isolation of a normal winter to be overwhelming, it’s why many will go into debt to create a form of temporary migration to chase the sun and warmth. In the absence of our normal ways of connecting, our normal ways of avoiding or escaping, how will we keep ourselves okay?

Summer isn’t over yet, weeks of sunshine and heat are before us. We have time to soak up the nourishment the sun gives us and stockpile the strength we need to go into the unknown, into the dwindling light. Perhaps we can continue to let go of the notion of expectation and the heaviness that brings with it. Remove the word should from your vocabulary. We might be faced with decisions that feel impossible to make and situations that feel unbearably uncomfortable to find our way through, but we don’t have to do that with stoicism and bravado. We can allow ourselves to simply not know and keep figuring it out one day at a time. This is a new world we face, and we’re the ones building it, keep conscious creation at the forefront.

Over-functioning might be the reality for many but I refuse to let it become my mainstay. I sorely miss having the ability to experience things like that retreat two years ago but I’m also unwilling to let the imposition of our current events be the driving force behind how I seek respite from over-functioning. Like everything — from getting groceries to having a date — I’m just needing to find a new comfortable way to manage it, for now.

My internal compass is always dictating my actions and charting my course and so I’m grateful that I’ve been indulgent with sharing time and space with those I love. I’ve been filled to the brim with love and renewed energy by my frequent gatherings with the women I love spending time with; the nonstop play dates, beach days and pool days with friends; the quiet family time spent as a unit of five; small family dinners and bigger BBQs with friends; my phone calls and voice messages and constant virtual check ins with those I love who are far. I am making the concessions that I can to keep myself soothed in the ways that I can.

There is a lot still to come, so much rapid change and new terrain to learn. I wish us all gentleness as we go day by day and take it as it comes. I wish us all the last long days of summer spent in our favourite ways with our favourite people. I wish us grace with ourselves and each other as we each come to different decisions about what fall will hold. I wish us the courage to take the notion of having your shit sorted right off the table and relax into stretching the easiness of summer into the days to come. I wish for us to keep the pull that nature and spirit have on our souls close, to lean on the seasons with trust, to lean on each other for support. The light fades but never leaves, keep blazing yours.

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