Now Is The Season Of My Discontent

I’ve always struggled in May.  An emptiness fills the void left by the endings of April.  The passion disappears.  All meaning is stripped out of my life.  It started when I was 15.  Not because of any dramatic life event but from the changing of the seasons.  Not the seasons of the Earth, but the seasons of the pool.  As a swimmer, my year was divided into four seasons.  Pre-season.  Provincial.  National.  Post-Season.  The post-season started in May.  That is when the struggle kicked in.  Coming down from the high of provincial and national competitions I found myself searching for meaning.  The season was over.  I had achieved my goals.  Now what?

May 2001 was the most challenging.  Just weeks before I had signed off the year with my first national medals.  Gold.  Silver.  Bronze.  A complete set.  Personal best times were smashed and I felt stronger than I ever have, and likely ever will again.  I was not prepared for what came next.  You spend all year fighting for those moments of success that you never stop to think about what to do after.  I was a national champion.  And I was empty inside.  There is always another mountain to climb but the last thing anyone wants to do after climbing one is to start ascending another.  This is how I felt in May of 2001.  This is how I feel now in May of 2016.

Three weeks ago I submitted my LLM Thesis.  After three years of hard work I was done.  In the space of a week relief turned to joy turned to exhaustion turned to emptiness.  Now what?  The post-season is the most important season in sport.  It is where you take time to relax and to refresh your mind.  There is a season for hard work, there is a season for competition, and there is a season for play.  I never fully learned to embrace the struggle of the post-season, but I did learn to acknowledge that it too will pass.  May became a month of letting go.  Letting go of the past year, letting go of past goals, letting go of past achievements.  It is not a month for massive action, or climbing mountains.  It is a month of reflection.  A chance to reassess and refocus. To play.

Seasons change.  One morning in early June my alarm would go off at 4:55am and my spring would arrive.  I  would drag myself out of bed and start climbing that next mountain.  I have spent the better part of the past three years climbing the largest mountain I have ever come across.  Battling my way through work challenges, a crumbling relationship, and the passing of the person who inspired my climb.  I need time off.  Time to recuperate.  Time to recover from the stresses of the last climb.  Maybe it is okay to feel empty for a little while.  To allow myself that time to rest and to heal.  Before that morning in June when I start my next ascent.

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