I like the seasons.
Specifically, I like that they change.
There is a rhythm to the seasons that I can appreciate for the very reason that I have lived in a seasonal world for short enough a time to still marvel at it. The seasons anchor your life deeply, color it in ways that a person cannot see if they have never lived in a place of colorless and monotonous weather.
There is a certain reassurance to be had in the comforting and absolute knowledge that summer will turn into autumn, that winter will eventually arrive and in time, so will spring. All things come to those who wait. This is what the seasons tell us.
People who live in seasonal countries seem to take this for granted. They are balanced by a certain equanimity and nonchalance, as evidenced here in Beijing, where just a few months ago, I spent a good part of my days standing on buses and trains in an unbearable crush of perspiring people. While I cursed the special hell that is a Beijing summer, the good people of the city sweated profusely and serenely around me, seemingly unperturbed by the heat that had quite undone me.
And then, there came that magic week when the weather turned. The days cooled down to cardigan weather and the nights became positively chilly. And just as serenely, the good people of Beijing donned their lightweight spring-wear. By the time this piece sees the light of day, Beijing would have turned into a wasteland of exhaust-soiled snow and biting wind and its residents would just as nonchalantly have bundled up in the endless layers that constitute their winter wear. There will be Chinese toddlers on the street, wrapped up in so many puffy layers that their center of gravity, never strong in the first place, will be thrown completely off-balance.
The point is that even in the inferno of the Beijing summer, real Beijing-ers remained unruffled because they knew that eventually it would end and winter would come. They didn’t hate the sweltering temperatures because they knew that a few months down the line, just about everyone in the city would be shivering in the cold, waiting for the government to turn on the state-controlled coal heating. This was a lesson in acceptance that I had yet to learn.
For me, the cooler weather brings on the first stirrings of ambition. What else can you call it when winter hibernation brings on a fever of planning and list-making and life plotting? Winter makes me want to write. It makes me want to light scented candles and drink hot tea and flex my fingers in preparation of all the things that I want to write about, that I finally, after a season of lethargy, feel excited to write about.
The colder seasons have always been for me the seasons for starting over. The soothing rituals of boiling water for making tea, the special silence that accompanies a flurry of snowfall, the softness of wool scarves pulled up close against your face. These things bring forth desires in me to start again, to do better and try for more, even as my instinct is to curl up on the couch and hibernate for the entirety of winter. When the weather cools and there is a bite in the air, I can feel hope budding tentatively, and I await in anticipation that butterflies in your tummy feeling, the good kind, the kind that means that something exciting is about to happen. There are plans to be made. There is life is to be plotted.
Having four seasons revolving around the year makes so much sense that it makes me want to cry in relief. Eighteen years of living in invariably hot and humid weather has taught me to appreciate winter and summer in equal parts when either one rolls around.
Life moves through the seasons with a reassuring calmness and inevitability. The seasons impose an order on the world, bringing sense and clarity out of what seems like formless chaos. If all things are susceptible to change and being alive is to be in a constant state of flux, on this at least we can rely upon, that autumn will always precede winter and will always succeed summer and that this natural progression of things is not likely to change in the foreseeable future.