In Robert Service’s famous poem The spell of the Yukon he pens the line “The summer – no sweeter was ever” to reference the very short but incredibly mind blowing northern summer. He goes on to say “The freshness, the freedom, the farness – O God! How I’m stuck on it all”. A Yukon summer is alive, vibrant, bright, magical, productive and stunningly beautiful. When you live through northern winters you have far more contrast by which to view summer and it is easy to get attached to all there is to savour in this sweet season. As we know all things come to pass and seasons change.
As I try hard to be patient waiting for spring to finally arrive I have been envisioning what it will feel like to again have warmth on my face from the sun and a warm breeze. I feel excited about the prospect of being able to go outside wearing light weight clothing and to walk barefoot. This is challenging my practice of being mindful in the moment, receiving what is present now and not living in anticipation of the future. The concept of non-attachment feels more challenging when we are contemplating something good. I am trying to practice self-compassion and not get hung up on beating myself up for not being a perfect mindfulness practitioner. I resolve to savour spring and summer all the more when it becomes my moment to moment experience.
Years ago, when I lived in the Yukon I made a conscious decision to embrace winter as it too is a magical season in the far north. I took up cross country skiing and spent many hours at lessons and races even skiing at night as the ski club had 50 km of lit trails. Back country skiing and winter camping at -35 below Celsius was kind of a normal weekend. On reflection, I was more mindful at that moment than I gave myself credit for. However, like Robert Service, when the fireweed reappeared I savored the sweetness of summer.
My message then really in this piece is a wish for us all to live in the moment regardless of the weather around us, whether that weather is climate or whether figuratively meaning the circumstances around us. That’s a lot of weathers and whethers but the English language is a thought for another entry. What challenges your mindfulness practice?
By Beth Montgomery