It’s winter here in the northern hemisphere, and after weeks on end of walking around under grey clouds, it suddenly dawned on me.
Literally: the sun finally dawned one morning, coming out from behind those grey clouds, and the beautiful rays of light and warmth lifted me out of some season-induced blahs.
We hear weather-related mood references all the time, about the sun being associated with happy moods and smiling faces, while grey skies and clouds invoke the blues, but I realized as the sun came out and my spirits lifted that the sun and the clouds are much more than just a commonly-used metaphor for our moods. They really work very much the same way as one another.
The sun is always there behind the clouds, but when we can’t see it, we forget that it’s there. Similarly, when we face challenges in life, often the only thing we see is the downside of things. We focus on the dark side, often to the exclusion of the good things that surround us even while the clouds have gathered.
But here’s the thing: if you’re always peering into the shadowy parts of your life, you’re inadvertently turning your back to the light. Nature has dark times and light times – night and day, winter and summer – and they’re part of the natural cycle of things. Part of a cycle. Nature doesn’t intend for anything to be constantly in one state nor the other – neither always light nor always dark – but rather for things to ebb and flow naturally from one state to the other, without undue attachment to either.
In the same way, we can and do benefit from ‘dark times’ when we receive them as times of introspection and reflection about our choices in life, and about how we decide to respond to the challenging circumstances that confront us. When things in life get dark, we can choose to stop and take stock of which direction we want to head: further into the dark, by dwelling on the negative circumstances, or instead, toward the light at the horizon. You may not even be able to see that light on the edge of the horizon yet, if you’re really in the depths of the dark, but when you choose to keep walking in the direction of the light, dawn will surely come again. It’s as certain in your life as it is in nature.
‘Walking towards the light’ can mean any number of things: seeking out positive people and/or helpful resources in your community; taking in uplifting books, movies or funny/inspiring YouTube videos; practicing gratitude for the good things already present in your life; or starting any other routines that would lift you up, such as an exercise program or some kind of spiritual practice, if that calls to you.
Just as the sun is always behind the clouds, there is always light to be found in any situation, if only you take the time to look for it. Whatever light is available to you (even if it only seems to be in your imagination right now!), focus on it, not on the dark. Do anything, big or small, to blow those clouds away.
Because the sun will indeed come out again, and it’ll come faster when you turn your face in its direction.