365 Journal Questions, writing therapy
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Week 44 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Seasons

It’s nearly November. The fall gusts carry brilliant fluttering leaves and the sun barely peeks over the horizon at five o’clock.  We mentally prepare ourselves for the fast-approaching winter by vocalizing our bewilderment at the cool temperatures – “Can you believe how cold it is?” and “Wasn’t it summer just last week?”  The feigned surprise makes it seem as if we expected summer to last into December.

Whether you’re looking forward to cooler temperatures or not, the change in seasons is an opportunity to think deeply about life.  Are all seasons of life equally enjoyable?

This week’s journal topic: Seasons

I’d like to share one of my favorite Chinese poems:

The spring flowers, the autumn moon,

Summer breezes, winter snow.

If useless things do not clutter your mind,

You have the best days of your life.

Wumen Huikai

The changing seasons remind us of two simple truths: the truth of constant change, and the role of human perception in giving meaning to life.  Still, it’s easy to forget them mere moments after hearing the arguments for them.  In one ear and out the other!

Change

The nature of reality is that everything is in a constant state of flux.  Everything changes.  All things alive and dead, whether a system or an individual, are constantly moving in and out of their identities.  Seasons will change and to expect otherwise is foolish.

Summer is beautiful in its own right, and so is winter, as are spring and autumn.  But part of their beauty is that they do not last forever – their change is a reminder to develop the skill of “making and marking occasions”.  Taking a photo is one such modern way of marking a moment in time.  In these moments, we can appreciate the season’s temporary identity, for example, the autumn moon or the spring flowers.

Perception

Upon re-reading the poem above, you may notice a moral or lesson about emotional independence from circumstances:

If useless things do not clutter your mind,

You have the best days of your life

The poem seems to be about the seasons – spring, summer, winter, fall.  However, it’s actually much deeper than that.  ‘Season’ can be a metaphor for the seasons of a human life, or the seasons of a relationship.  Therefore, the poem’s lesson is that having “the best days of your life” does not require any particular season; rather, you merely need to rid your mind of useless mental objects such as ideas, images, emotions, memories, thoughts and preoccupations.

Some people might argue about which season is best.  But there is no “best” season.  The author of this poem is instructing us to learn to clear our minds of useless clutter so that whichever season lands on us, we can enjoy it.  Another way of saying this is:

Circumstances are always prime when you’re focused on the right things.

Journal Questions:

  1. Which season is your favorite and why?
  2. Which is your least favorite season and why?
  3. Describe in detail a favorite childhood memory from each season.
  4. Complaining about the weather is a normal part of adult life. Why do adults complain about the weather?  (What are the social, psychological, or emotional reasons?)
  5. Describe your life in terms of each season: How is your life ‘spring’ right now? In what way are you in the middle of a summer? In what aspect of your life is it fall? Is a winter approaching?
  6. What do your answers to Question 5 tell you about what your mind is focused on?
  7. What kind of “useless” clutter are you carrying in your mind? (Describe why it’s not useful.)

How to Get the most out of Know Thyself 2019:

Give yourself time to think and re-think.  By doing so, you evolve your own thought processes! The journal is meant to help you develop a daily practice of positive self-reflection.

Author’s Request:  If you liked this week’s post, please take a second to like or comment – I am grateful for all the feedback I receive.  Please also consider supporting me via Patreon (patreon.com/emilykluge).  And big news: I’m publishing a book next year!  If you’d like to receive a free copy and be part of my launch team, email me directly at emily@emilykluge.com! Finally, don’t forget to subscribe by email or WordPress so you don’t miss out on future posts.  Thank you so much!

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