“Au milieu de l’hiver, j’ai découvert en moi un invincible été.” –Albert Camus
I have seen the above quote translated in many different versions, but here I prefer the most direct translation:
“In the middle of winter, I discovered in me an invincible summer.”
Ahhhh, so beautiful.
It has been doggone cold in Maryland, and it seems like the winter will drag itself all the way into April. Being cooped up in the house, always having to bundle up before venturing outside, and in general missing the sunshine has really worn my patience and my spirits thin. So I’ve been thinking about old Albert’s beautiful words a lot lately, so much so that they’ve been running through my head several times an hour, seemingly on their own.
I think about the cold of this winter season, and the drear…how they manifest in the world of form: ice, snow, bitter winds, nights that are long, the waiting, waiting, and more waiting for warmth, renewed life, renewed vigor.
And then I think about the winter that I have finally begun to face within me–the winter of my self, my spirit–and how this inner winter has manifested in my life: darkness, loneliness, anger, resentment, rage, hopelessness, depression, doubt, envy, lack of motivation, holding on to things past their time because of a fear of letting go. As I write these words, it seems to me on one hand as if I may never be fully prepared to face the challenge of freeing myself from the bondage of my past, my conditioning, my genetic inheritance, and the choices I have made that haunt me. On the other hand, it strikes me that I can greet this inner winter the same way I handle the outer one–I have no control over it, might as well be patient until the right conditions arise and things change naturally, of their own accord, when the time is right.
The yoga teacher in me seeks the balance that can be found between the two extremes of fighting to change and waiting for change. Somewhere in there is Lorien, who can wake up and realize that she is doing the best she can, and know that it is enough to attend to the small details of childrearing, to navigate being in a marriage, to show up for work and pour her heart into teaching her students, and somehow manage to carve out time for self-exploration in the midst of all of her roles and responsibilities.
I want to believe that this process of realizing the awakened self in me can be just as natural as a flower opening in the light of the sun. Just for this moment, I do believe it can be like this. I can drop the ideas of pain and limitation, of toil and struggle and torment, and just let myself be who I am right now. This knowing is the invincible summer in the midst of the seemingly endless winter. No matter how much I am challenged by my doubts, fears, and regrets, and no matter how many beatings I may take from my inner critic, there is some wise part in me that holds my tenderest self with so much love and compassion that I know I have nothing to fear. May I listen more and more to that wise part.
May I have the courage, strength, and endurance to do what needs to be done. And may I have the patience to allow the blossom of my true nature to unfurl when the time is right.
Note: The picture of the blossom below was taken two days ago. It’s a pomegranate bloom from one of my husband’s carefully tended banzai. Such a cheerful sight in the middle of winter!
The flower of consciousness does not fade or wither, but grows more beautiful as time passes.