Much is written about Autumn Equinox, upon which I cannot hope to improve! But my experience right now is sitting on the ground in my garden, with a gentle breeze blowing my soothing wind chimes into life, the sun warming my back, an endless blue sky, and the strong smell of rotted manure waiting for me to spread onto my veg patch to re-invigorate the soil that has given me so much blessed bounty this summer. One of only two days in the year when the daylight and night-time hours are the same length, the equinox welcomes in a new season and always invites us to pause for reflection.
Balance is a word that seems to follow me around, whether I’m trying to find it in my own life, or to make sense of the world, or sharing ideas with friends and colleagues. And at equinox we are reminded that Nature is all about balance within a cycle. I find myself craving stillness – partly to counteract the craziness of the last six months of living with the restrictions imposed by the response to Covid-19, but partly perhaps because I find it hard to embrace the darker, more unhappy parts of myself. A lifetime of learning to suppress feelings, largely as a self-protective mechanism, is hard to unravel – but unravel it I must, in order to live a whole, holistic, authentic life. Life includes turmoil.
Maybe there’s a wider lesson here. I’ve just heard Boris Johnson announcing the new anti-Covid measures, and am struck, once again, by the language used. “…driven the virus into retreat.” “A perilous turning point.” “…suppress the disease.” “We must act to stop the virus being transmitted…” “The health of everyone in these islands depends on our common success.” “If all our actions fail… we reserve the right to deploy greater firepower…” It is fighting talk, battle territory, he implies that humans are falling victim to a wicked virus, which as one, we must resist and fight. I just don’t view health like this. To my mind, the health of everyone in these islands depends on our own immune systems, the ability to see our families and hug them, to interact with and care about the people in our communities, the need to put right social, racial and climate injustice. Health is always about a whole self – the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual parts of any individual. Where is the room for all these elements in the battle approach to Covid-19? I will never say that any life is expendable, but I will reiterate that every life will one day come to a physical end, and that part of the “perfect storm” for this sensational and inappropriate response to the arrival of the virus is that modern medicine has woven into our culture the lie that all illness can be prevented and death can be postponed indefinitely. It saddens me to see the unnecessary pain caused by this story.
We need to find our own balance. Perhaps we can look deeply at our lives and sift through our own physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. How many of us even remember that we have all of these? A healthy immune system depends entirely on them being in balance with each other. There is no place for fear. Sickness enters where there is room for it. There is also a need to recognise our current lifestyles as completely unsustainable, not only in terms of the environment, but in terms of lack of responsibility for one’s own health and lack of awareness of the injustice in the world. I’m not pointing fingers, as I know that people are doing their best within the situations they find themselves. I suspect that everyone is experiencing trauma, a grief even, for our former lives. There are deep cultural traditions that keep us pinned to certain paradigms – like running to the doctor, like trusting authority, like fearing death. As I often say, I don’t have the answers, and I believe that there is undoubtedly a greater plan to which we are not yet privy, which may not even be seen in my lifetime. But I know, in my small corner, I need to know myself better, I need to share any wisdom that is asked of me, I need to stand up for others when I see injustice, and I need to question and challenge authority, though I am no advocate of lawlessness. To my mind, this is what living a balanced life comes down to. As our cycle turns towards the darker months, I send you all good wishes and invite you to reflect on the balance of your own life.