high holiday season. pomegranates represent Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Jewish new year in fall. When seasons change from summer to fall.
Photo by Siamand Salimi

Have you ever thought about the relationships between the planets and the stars, the elements of the earth, the seasons, the hours of the day and yourself — your bodily functions, your thoughts and emotional processes?

Sometimes, I think about my tiny little life.

It is an early summer evening. I imagine enormous Jupiter making its way slowly across the dark sky overhead. Its unfathomable weight and size shakes me like an earthquake. Sitting on the balcony among potted plants and flowering geranium, sipping wine with a friend, I realize I am broke and must find a new job. I leap, head first, into the great changes of my infinitesimal life. One month later and newly employed, my lease ends and it is time to move out. I begin a process of moving into a new apartment, several streets down the hill. Geologically it is the same hill, but geographically it is a completely different neighborhood. I am drowned in overwhelm. Every now and then, gasping for air before getting dunked again. As summer reaches its peak, old relationships ripen, new connections form, like expansive lifeboats reminding me – I am not alone.

Fall is just around the corner — high holiday season. Something in the air is going to change. It will begin to bear down on us. It will suggest that it is time to take things down a notch and get ready for a new phase — winter. My hope is that I will begin to get more anchored in the new configuration of my life — I like to call it my new zula (Hebrew for “relaxation spot”… roughly). An inner zula, of course, which I spent the whole summer hard at work building. I will anchor the boat. Tidy up from the chaos of the summer season and prepare for something deeper and slower. Something more stable.  

As someone who grew up in America, this always seemed excessive. Summer vacation is a never ending process that extends into fall just because there are Jewish holidays which the state deems as off days. Most academic and other programs begin after the holidays, and come to an end when summer begins. Granted, the youth of Israel and America experience the same cycle — the first day of school for many is on September 1. No matter that immediately afterwards there are so many days off. But for the rest of us, what is the difference between the “summer” part of the summer, and the “high holiday” part of the summer? Not to mention the weather hardly changes here — which makes it all the more confusing (nope, no vibrant yellows, reds, oranges and browns wavering on the treetops here as temperatures dramatically drop).

Only recently, when I began to study Chinese Medicine, did I begin to tell the difference. Summer is the season associated with Fire and Earth — adventures, celebrations, ripening and maturation. Whew! That can be as exhausting as it is exciting. But then in the fall, we enter the domain of Metal. This is a time for reflection, completion, transformation, getting rid of the old, making room for the new. Does that ring a bell with the sorrows of Yom Kippur and renewal of Rosh Hashanah?

When I think of my connection to the seasons, the earth and to the universe, I see many, many cycles, rhythms and orbits. Some are as short as a single breath. Others are much longer than a lifetime, such as Neptune’s orbit around our sun. Some are quite palpable at a given time. Many are far out of reach.

And what cycles await my discovery in the coming year?