As some of you know, I self-direct my studies. Taking ownership over my own education is amazingly powerful, as well as challenging and lonely at times. Luckily there are amazing tools to work with and to get inspired by. The Open Masters tools have helped me a lot over the years. See: Open Master's Community (openmasters.org)
One source of inspiration has been aligning my studies with the four seasons. This helps me to not only become more aware of the different phases of studying, but also to value all of these equally and to keep my studies regenerative.
The 4 seasons all have different qualities and energies. The spring represents the time of ‘planning’, of planting and nurturing seeds. The summer is the time to let these seeds blossom. It is the time of action, activity and of high energy. After this period of growing energy it is time to slow down again and harvest the fields. This is the time of autumn, a time to reflect on what has grown and to integrate all of that. Then finally it is wintertime, the time to rest and turn inwards. To heal, to grief, to let die of what doesn’t serve us anymore and to prepare the soil for the next spring to come.
To me the winter season is the most challenging. Growing up in a capitalist society, I have internalized that my worth is equal to what I produce and mostly to how much I produce. It stimulates me to be in my ‘summer’ all the time, to be high-energy all the time. To exploit my soil, rush through all the other seasons so I can be in action time again. But as we see in nature, we can’t produce all the time. We can’t have fruits all the time, without paying attention to the soil. And unfortunately this is the very thing I have done in my working/ study life as well. I have a tendency to overly focus on action time, on the fiery energy. Not only is this a highly unsustainable way of living, but we are also missing a whole world of depth, of reflection and of richness. Because we need all the seasons, we need all these different qualities. It might feel slower at first or lonely because the pace of society is ‘faster’, but it is so much richer.
As I write this, I feel very much in my Winter. Which feels a bit strange and lonely since outside it is summer time and most people are jumping around, doing all kinds of cool things. I try to embrace my FoMo (fear of missing out) and to focus on what is important to me now. Resting, grieving, turning inwards. Letting go of things that don’t serve me anymore. Letting die so new things can be born. And then suddenly I feel some seeds coming to the surface. I feel and see them coming, I hold them carefully and I also know: ‘he, it is not time yet for you to grow’, the soil isn’t ready yet. I am still composting, letting things die, so there is space for you to grow. Be patient, Eva, be patient. We aren’t rushing towards action, we are following the seasons.
Usually I would have said: ‘I am excited to show you the seeds that are growing’. Focusing again on the upwards, high energy, even though the seeds aren’t ready to grow yet . But now I can genuinely say: ‘I am also excited to show you what I am letting go of’. Because this part of the cycle is equally important, worthy of equal time and attention.
P.s. it is interesting to observe that whenever I write about rest and slowing down, feelings of guilt start coming up. Because shouldn’t I be focusing all my attention on climate justice, doing ‘whatever I can’? Well, this is me doing what I can, in a holistic and cyclical way. Trying to embody a regenerative way of studying, of life and of activism. Acknowledging the importance of each season.